This exceptional French toile peinte (or “painted canvas”) is from the Rococo period, circa 1750. The large chinoiserie scene is composed of eight canvas sections woven together, and it has been affixed to a contemporary wooden stretcher for support. In addition to its massive size, the soft, time-worn colors make this chinoiserie a sight to behold. At around 270 years old, the ochre, orange, light blue, brown, and green hues still radiate. Ancillary colors such as red, yellow, and white are used to make the scene even more vivid.
The panorama shows three people, on an outdoor terrace surrounded by greenery. A woman in a blue dress with a gold wrap is holding a red umbrella. In ancient Asia, umbrellas were a symbol of power, due to scarcity and high cost to manufacture. Only members of the Chinese royal family could carry red or yellow umbrellas, indicating this woman is royalty. The woman holds a table scrap in her hand, as a dog raises on its hind legs to accept the treat. Behind them is a baluster railing with a campana urn holding a large floral bouquet.
To the left of the woman, a man dressed in yellow and white with a conical hat is pointing off-canvas. Kneeling next to him is an older man with a large white beard wearing a blue garment and presenting a platter of fruit. The man in the hat is sitting on an ornate wall embellished with two Rococo pedestals with scrolled brackets. One of the pedestals has another flowered urn, while the other one has a white bird perched on top.
Several villages can be seen in the background, including one with a river running through an aqueduct. Large trees can be seen beneath a blue sky filled with soft clouds. Along the outside of the painting are two distinct decorative borders. The most interior border is an undulating wave of light blue and white interspersed with floral bouquets. Outside of this is sinuous golden border of curled leaves and Rococo shells.
Chinoiserie is the European interpretation of Asian culture in the form of decorative art. The style appeared in France in the 1600’s, but it was not until the 18th century that its popularity spread throughout Europe. A fascination for the cultures of the Far East inspired artists in a variety of specialties, from tapestries to furniture, lacquers, porcelains, and paintings. It is characterized by asymmetric designs and often associated with the Rococo period. The panel seen here would have been commissioned for a large room in mid 18th century France. Today, it will continue to make a grand statement with any style of decor.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with minor separations to the canvas and faded paint. Old repairs to the canvas are visible and repainting in areas. Hooks have been installed on the back of the modern stretcher for hanging purposes.