Birds and flowers

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

The catalogue of Chinese wallpapers in the historic houses of the National Trust is now on its way to the printers and should be out by the middle of March.

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

We hope it will stimulate debate and research around the dating, stylistic development and social and economic contexts of Chinese wallpaper – as well as providing some jolts of visual beauty, of course.

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

It is interesting to compare the wallpaper at Erddig, hung in the 1770s (seen here), with the wallpaper at Nostell Priory, mostly hung in 1771 (as seen in this post). They are technically and stylistically similar: fully painted (without the printed elements seen in earlier wallpapers), but with ‘painterly’ scenery quite close to traditional Chinese ‘bird and flower’ painting.

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

Later, nineteenth-century Chinese wallpapers tend to more stylised – developing away from ‘art’ and more towards ‘design’, perhaps – but these late eighteenth century examples at Erddig and Nostell seem to define the ‘middle style’.

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

Such issues will become clearer as we compare more examples from historic houses and collections across the world, and hopefully our catalogue will make a small contribution towards that ongoing research.

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

©National Trust/Andrew Bush

We also want to learn more about the Chinese background to this imagery. The Buddha’s hand citron, which appears in the Erddig wallpaper, for instance, has a number of auspicious meanings ranging – depending on the context – from the spiritual to the erotic, as I have just been discovering in the catalogue Beauty Revealed: Images of Women in Qing Dynasty Chinese Painting by the late Timothy Cahill and others.

11 Responses to “Birds and flowers”

  1. cinziarobbiano Says:

    beautiful 😀 would you suggest a tapestry for the bedroom to an Italian lover of everything British? it will be well accepted, cinzia

  2. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    The ultimate ‘British’ tapestries would I suppose be those by William Morris, for instance this one:

    But the British have also long appreciated Flemish tapestries, and there are many of those in the historic houses of the National Trust.

  3. Grace Says:

    Congratulations on the imminent publication of your catalogue, Emile!

  4. Andrew Clegg Says:


    Any chance of an article on the Tredegar auction so that members can understand what the Trust managed to secure of the principal contents? It seems like an exciting development and I cannot recall anything in the Magazine or the website so far?

    Kind regards

    Andrew Clegg

  5. Michael Shepherd Says:

    I think you mean Trelissick in Cornwall! Yes an article would be helpful since there is very little information what the Trust acquired apart from stating that they purchased a number of lots. What are the plans for the house.

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks very much Grace.

    Andrew and Michael, yes I think you mean Trelissick, don’t you? I was indeed involved with the acquisition of some of the contents of the house which you are referring to, but the colleagues asked me to hold off publicising it until they were ready to show the items to the public. I will ask them if they would now be happy for me to post about it.

  7. style court Says:

    Emile, will the catalogue be for sale immediately at the NT’s online shop? Or at book shops in the U.S.?

  8. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Courtney, apologies for the delay in answering. Yes it will be available via the NT online shop, and we hope also via other outlets, but that is still to be confirmed.

  9. Home Comfort Says:

    wow..nice art from china.

  10. Lord Cowell Says:

    Can’t wait for the catalogue, as we have done a lot of work to research and recreate an 18th C oriental-styled room. It will be a really interesting read for us as well as a great bedside book for guests staying in that room

  11. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thank you. The catalogues are almost here, we will let you know!

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