Author Sloboda, Stacey Loughrey
Title Making China: Design, empire, and aesthetics in Britain, 1745--1851
book jacket
Descript 395 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 65-09, Section: A, page: 3194
Adviser: Karen Lang
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Southern California, 2004
Decadent, feminine, exotic, and marginal---these are a few of the qualities that have come to be associated with chinoiserie, a decorative style that proliferated throughout the visual culture of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Europe. With its images of pagodas, musicians and mandarins, chinoiserie has existed as an exotic diversion within the history of the decorative arts, while the decorative arts themselves have traditionally remained a footnote to the discipline of art history. This is a sorry fate for an artistic style that, in fact, fundamentally shaped contemporary ideas about aesthetic imitation, alterity, and national identity in Britain. In order to redress the place and estimation of chinoiserie, and more broadly, British decorative arts in the history of art, my dissertation examines the social, political, and aesthetic implications of chinoiserie from the founding of the Chelsea Porcelain Factory in 1745 to the Great Exhibition of 1851. I aim to show that the study of decorative arts is not only central to an understanding of Britain's artistic history, but also that it is central to the cultural formation of Britain as an imperial nation. To this end, I argue that chinoiserie's meanings exceeded the limits of mute decoration and spoke directly to Britain's emerging imperial identity. The dissertation is organized as a series of close readings of chinoiserie design---including porcelain, interior decoration, and design treatises---that created a British visual language of "China," which is to say of what China was imagined to be by British audiences. Since I argue that making "China" in the visual sense was bound up with contemporary ideas of imperial nationhood, I study chinoiserie as a visual language in relation to the cultural forces which were concerned with making "Britain." Whereas chinoiserie could signify foreign and deviant social statuses and taste in the eighteenth century, by the nineteenth century it had become a fundamental part of British aesthetics and domestic material culture. My dissertation therefore investigates the intersections of artistic, cultural, economic, and political histories within the sphere of the decorative arts
School code: 0208
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 65-09A
Subject Art History
Design and Decorative Arts
History, European
Alt Author University of Southern California