Exotic and contemporary

Hunting scene in one of the Chinese wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. ©Buitenplaatsen2012

Hunting scene in one of the Chinese wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. ©Buitenplaatsen2012

Today Oud Amelisweerd, a small country house just outside Utrecht, was officially reopened as a museum by HRH Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Oud Amelisweerd ©Jeroen Wielaert/NOS

Oud Amelisweerd ©Jeroen Wielaert/NOS

The house contains several Chinese wallpapers dating to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as historic European wallpapers.

Section of one of the floral wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. ©Erfgoed Utrecht

Section of one of the floral wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. ©Erfgoed Utrecht

The Chinese wallpapers are important both because of their quality and beauty and because they are related to similar wallpapers in Britain, for instance at Penrhyn Castle, at the Royal Pavilion, and at Saltram.

The foreground of one of the floral wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. ©DUIC

The foreground of one of the floral wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. ©DUIC

Much remains uncertain about the decorative history of Oud Amelisweerd, but the links between the Chinese wallpapers there and elsewhere are helpful in piecing together parts of the chronology.

Work by Armando at Oud Amelisweerd. ©Jeroen Wielaert/NOS

Work by Armando at Oud Amelisweerd. ©Jeroen Wielaert/NOS

Following conservation work Oud Amelisweerd now also houses a collection of work by the contemporary artist Armando – to add a frisson of modernity to the frisson of exoticism.

6 Responses to “Exotic and contemporary”

  1. Andrew Says:

    What are the pretty chaps in the first one hunting? A pig? (Bits of it seem to resemble a dog, or a lamb!) And with a sword?! Europeans tended to put a crossguard on boar spears to stop an injured animal riding up the shaft to attack the person at the other end.

    The birds and flowers are beautiful. And it is nice to see the old in juxtaposition with the new.

  2. JMAHVH Says:

    Very nice, but… Oud-Amelisweerd is quite Dutch; branching out across the water Emile? Or is it the chinoiserie?


  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Andrew, it looks a bit like some kind of wild boar, albeit a rather dainty one. So perhaps this is a scene of ‘pig sticking’ (where the wonderful but chilling phrase ‘squealing like a stuck pig’ comes from, apparently). I will check with those who know more about the depiction of animals in Chinese painting.

    Lex, indeed, a very Dutch house, but the Chinese wallpapers there have a number of similarities with those in British houses, including several in NT houses. So it is a wonderful example of how imported luxury goods, originally sourced from a small number of workshops in Guangzhou, spread across Europe in the eighteenth century. And for that reason, too, Oud Amelisweerd is mentioned several times in our forthcoming catalogue of Chinese wallpapers in NT houses.

  4. Robert M. Kelly Says:

    Wonderful papers! I’m wondering if these are mentioned in back issues of the Wallpaper History Society Review? One observation, the matching at seams is clearly less than perfect. I often see this on historic scenic wallpaper and it reinforces to me that matching the seams of wallpaper, like matching the seams of fabric, was not done in past times to the extent that it is expected today.

    My recommendation to historic houses undergoing restoration with reproduction wallpaper is that we should imitate our ancestors in their techniques as well as in their cost outlays, level of finish, and choice of styles. Occasionally this means accepting a less-than-perfect match (which we know from documented examples like these were common, if not universal) rather than “improve” to our 21st century standards by altering the designs at the seam with paint.

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    I thinks these wallpapers (and fragments and overdoors) still await a proper write-up.

    The various phases of conservation work (the most recent of which has just been completed) have lead to the discovery of various clues and layers and hidden fragments, so now would seem to be a good moment to produce some articles or a well-illustrated book about the Chinese wallpapers at Oud Amelisweerd. Perhaps now that it has been re-set up as a museum this could be one of their projects over the next few years.

    We now also know much more about the links between the Oud Amelisweerd papers and Chinese wallpapers and pictures elsewhere, so that whole inter-European dimension could also be included.

    And yes I agree, if the misaligning of the edges of the wallpaper drops is a result of the original hanging there is a strong case to keep or reinstate that as part of the history of the interior.

  6. Princess of Eboli History Masquerade Says:

    I think is beautiful !!!!!!!!

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