The Museum Society and the University Museum and Art Gallery will jointly present a lecture by Professor Thibaut Wolvesperges on chinoiserie and the stylistic adaptation of Chinese design and fashion into French art. Since the late seventeenth century when Chinese art was imported and collected in France, its 'exotic' shapes, forms and patterns, have influenced the local French production of artefacts and interior decoration, creating an East Asia-inspired style that became hugely popular, and gained international importance during the French Rococo of the eighteenth century. With both the nobility and bourgeoisie collecting original Chinese art objects, the demand stimulated the production of and created a market for, French furniture, porcelain, fabrics, and engraved and painted decorations reminiscent of the highly-priced Chinese export paintings, lacquer panels and porcelains, thus offering Westerners a rare glimpse into the East.
Professor Wolvesperges studied art history in Brussels and Paris, where at the prestigious Sorbonne University, his PhD thesis on French lacquer furniture of the eighteenth century won the Bruno Pons Prize in 1999. The published text of his doctorate, Le Meuble Francais en Laque au XVIIIe Siecle (2000), and numerous other publications testify to the authority of Professor Wolvesperges in the field of the East Asian influence on French furniture and decorative arts. His thoroughly researched and highly praised books and essays have formed the basis of study for students of the phenomenon of chinoiserie and Chinese material culture, and its adaptation in Western Europe.