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Engraving the Art Encounter Between China and France in Eighteenth Century: A Research on Livres de Dessins Chinois
Livres de Dessins Chinois
Material Culture Research
Consumption Culture Research
Cross-Cultural Consumption Research
The use of Chinese Design Albums for visual reference by artisans was an important factor that contributed to the popularity of Chinoiserie (the Chinese style) in Europe from the beginning to the middle of the Eighteenth Century. These Albums, often made by masters of design using the highest quality materials, not only had artistic value, but were also luxury objects. They therefore became important items in many significant collections of art and design. In the development of Chinoiserie (the Chinese style), French designers would refer to the prints and art works exported from China and collected by the Royalty and Aristocracy of France. This thesis, entitled “Engraving the Art Encounter Between China and France in the Eighteenth Century：A Research on Livres de Dessins Chinois”, focuses on an examination of the evolution of design style in France from the 16th to the 18th century. This macro perspective enables the understanding of the ways in which Chinese Design Albums of early to mid 18th century inherited the themes of the 17th century and created new imagery by mixing Chinese or Eastern elements. In addition, this thesis traces the sources of the Chinese graphics in the Albums. The methodologies of Material Culture Research are used to treat the Chinese Design Albums as special artworks in order to create their “Biographies of Life” during both the production and consumption phases. The means and methods of production are examined with reference to the privilege system of the French publishing industry, the special location of the publishers, and the relationship between painters, printmakers, and publishers. The application of the Chinese Design Albums in the decorative design and crafts is also examined. The ways in which sponsors or consumers affected the style of the production of the Albums, how and where the Albums were bought and collected, and the manner in which the Albums satisfied the needs of the market, politics, and the wider social culture is clarified during the examination of the consumption phase. Finally, Cross-cultural Consumption Research is used to examine how translated European books and albums became a source of knowledge in China, and how designers produced works that crossed cultural domains. The ways in which Chinese Design Albums were translated (with minor changes) in order to meet the aesthetic needs of different countries is also examined.
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