Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Hand Painted Chinoiserie Wallpaper Series - Part 1

Saltram - Devon - 1740s - Study Closeup
If there is one element that most lovers of Chinoiserie would love to have in their homes, it would be hand painted Chinoiserie wallpaper. Today, we begin a series on this coveted Chinoiserie wallpaper. We will look at its history, current and future design, how to specify and use it in your home, and many examples of rooms by top interior designers with hand painted papers. We start today with a look at the history of Chinoiserie wallpaper.

The fascination with Chinoiserie achieved prominence in Europe in the eighteenth century, symbolizing the exotic, elegant, and glamorous. People strove to integrate Chinoiserie into their homes through textiles, furniture, and porcelain. But the greatest prize of all for those who could afford it was hand painted wallpaper imported from China. Much of the paper was traded through Canton, the British name for Guangzhou, a city on the west coast of China where ships from the British East India Company were allowed to dock. The Chinese referred to these European merchants as foreign devils.

The first Chinese wallpaper actually dates back to 200 BC. After inventing paper, the Chinese began gluing paper made from rice to their walls. In the 1600s, the Chinese began adorning the rice paper with painted birds, flowers, and landscapes. In the 1700s, hand painted wallpaper was made with silk as well, and featured birds, trees, Chinese figures, and pagodas.

The very rich in Europe had their palaces, chateaux, and manor houses decorated with Chinoiserie wallpaper adhered to panels which were then affixed to the walls. In the 1800s, the tradition of panoramic Chinese wallpaper emerged featuring gardens, birds, flowering shrubs, and flowers in ornate pots. Drottningholm, The Brighton Pavilion, Sans Souci, Schloss Worlitz, Charlottenburg, and Oranienbaum are among the palaces where you can still see these hand painted wallpapers.

Saltram - Study

Saltram Study Closeup

Saltram - Chinese Chippendale Bedroom

Saltram - Dressing Room

Saltram - Mirror Room

Belton House - Lincolnshire - Chinese Bedroom

Belton House Closeup

Royal Pavilion at Brighton

Brighton Closeup

Brighton Closeup

Geelvinck - Hinlopen Huis

Charlottenburg Palace - Berlin

Thomas Chippendale

Thomas Coutts - 1793

Drottningholm - Sweden

Harewood House - Yorkshire - 1769

Harewood House Closeup

Hellbrunn Castle - Salzburg - 1750
Hellbrunn Closeup

Nostell Priory - Yorkshire

Williamsburg - Rehung from a home in Boston

Winterthur - Chinese Parlor - 1770s

Winterthur Chinese Parlor Closeup


  1. Stunning!!!!! do you know of any fabric that resembles the Gracie wallpaper?

  2. What an absolute treat to get to see all of these beautiful images! I would be thrilled to have Chinese hand painted paper in my house someday!

  3. Brilliant piece! Thanks for all your hard work on this! Looking forward to every last word!!

  4. Thank you for the insightful history. Your site is a gem!

  5. Have not ever seen so many examples . Thanks for this visual, historical and educational trip to the very many unique properties.