One of the MUSTS for me in Paris was to visit the galleries of the Musee des Arts Decoratifs at the Louvre. It did not disappoint with an emormous collection, each piece more amazing than the last. The museum fills an enormous wing of the Louvre with one collection (by period) per floor. I was most excited to visit the collection of 18th century arts where we spent most of our time; and you can't have a display of 18th century decorative arts without some chinoiserie.A small display showed off the best of the best. Displayed against red lacquer panels, I think my favorite aspect was how colorful it all was!Above you see a lot of items that show the rococo influence also popular at the time. Chinoiserie really gained stride through rococo as the fantasty of it really mixed well with the design style's ideals. However, by the late 18th century, strict neoclassicism was in vogue and fanciful chinoiserie was mostly out. Chinoiserie wasn't about accurate Chinese design but rather a westerner's take on it: theater.The movement of chinoiserie really began with the import of china from the 'far east' in the 17th century and spread from there to include other household items, even entire buildings (although the style was mostly relegated to follies or particular rooms).Chinoiserie was especially popular in France, thanks in part to Louis XIV and Madame du Barry who had a special fondness for it. Even the term is French (chinese-esque)!
Later the theme began to include exotic 'Turkish' touches as well, although I didn't see much evidence of that in the collection.I'll end with this fantastic French barometer / thermometer which was in a case with a lot of china (which you know I loved). Small statues of men are housed in a pagoda form, on which rests a small tube of mercury (see it between the 2 statues at the base). Now if only I could find something like this on ebay......
For more on chinoiserie read a great summary on Wikipedia
and see current applications of the again popular style online at the Chinoiserie Chic Blog!