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British Modernism and Chinoiserie$
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Anne Witchard

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748690954

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748690954.001.0001

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Chinoiserie: An Unrequited Architectural Affair

Chinoiserie: An Unrequited Architectural Affair

(p.199) Chapter 10 Chinoiserie: An Unrequited Architectural Affair
British Modernism and Chinoiserie

Edward Denison

Edinburgh University Press

Chinoiserie’s stylistic repertoire in Britain over recent centuries has encompassed a wide range of art practices, but it has remained conspicuously absent from one art form in particular: architecture – the slow art. Despite a promising, prominent and pioneering entrance onto Chinoiserie’s stage in the mid-eighteenth century, most notably through the work of Sir William Chambers, reverence for China in the field of architecture has been negligible when compared with decorative, visual and literary art forms. While acknowledging this relative obscurity, this chapter examines the long and complex architectural relations between Britain and China up to the mid-twentieth century, a seminal epoch in which Chinoiserie was gaining approbation in other art practices, architectural Modernism was at its height internationally, British architects were travelling to or being raised in China in greater numbers than at any time in history, and the first Chinese architects were returning from an education in various foreign countries, including Britain. These myriad architectural interrelations have received relatively little scholarly attention as a collective group in comparison to other art practices while the individual architects, Chinese (such as Luke Him Sau) and British, and their work remain underexplored.

Keywords:   Luke Him Sau, architecture, Sir William Chambers

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