Visions of the east – double-take

Framed sections of Chinese wallpaper, in the Columnist's dining room.

This is a quick update on the previous post about the Chinese wallpaper at Belton House. The Columnist has now posted a bigger image of his own Chinese wallpaper panels, also shown above.

The wallpaper in the Chinese Bedroom at Belton. ©NTPL

At first I thought the the Columnist’s sections were merely similar to the wallpaper at Belton, but peering at another photograph of the Belton paper, above, I suddenly noticed that the bamboo culms on the right-hand edge of the image are almost identical to the culms in the Columnist’s right-hand panel.

It is not an exact match, but near enough to be recognisably the same pattern. The type and position of the birds more or less match as well: a small one flying downwards and a larger one perching slightly higher with its prominent tail feathers pointing to the left. Interestingly, the human figures below are completely different in the two papers.

As these wallpapers were painted entirely by hand, it would have been easy to vary the pattern slightly depending on the requirements of the buyer and the price level. This then leads one to wonder if both wallpapers came from the same workshop, or whether different workshops used the same patterns. And so every answer leads to another question.

6 Responses to “Visions of the east – double-take”

  1. littleaugury Says:

    awaiting more! great to see Columnist here in your pages. pgt

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    I am glad you are find it interesting. I will post again if I find out more about how these papers were produced.

  3. columnist Says:

    Interesting post, (of course!), to me. I’m sure my wallpaper is not significant in terms of its origin, but it would be interesting to know what might have inspired it. I like the bamboo framing in the Belton wallpaper. Quite by coincidence I framed mine with gilded bamboo.

  4. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Gill Saunders, in the book I mentioned earlier, speculates that the origin of these wallpapers lies in the paper that the Chinese pasted over their windows. In the region of Canton and Macao these papers were decorated with pictorial scenes and Europeans may have admired these and asked craftsmen to reproduce them. They began to be imported into Europe in the late seventeenth century.

    The style is related to the Chinese academic painting tradition, which favours meticulous realism – hence the often very accurate depiction of plants and animals.

  5. columnist Says:

    Fascinating. I never knew that theory.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Curator Andrew Barber, who advises on Belton, has just told me that the background to the wallpaper in the Chinese Room was originally a pale pink – so that particular part of it has in fact faded, while the figures and the foliage have fared better.

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