The colour red has been used in decorative arts for centuries and holds various meanings and symbolism. In the context of porcelain, oriental lacquer, japanning, and glass red was often used to create striking and eye-catching effects, particularly during the 18th and 19th century in Asia and Europe.

Porcelain: Red was a popular color used in porcelain production, particularly in Chinese and Japanese porcelain. The use of red glazes, such as iron oxide-based “copper red” glazes, was highly prized and produced stunning effects on porcelain wares. In Chinese porcelain, red was often used in combination with other colours, such as blue, to create intricate and vibrant flambe designs.

Oriental lacquer: Red lacquerware from the Orient, such as Chinese and Asian lacquerware, was known for its rich and vibrant red hues. Red lacquerware was often used to create decorative objects, such as boxes, screens, and furniture, and was highly valued for its exquisite craftsmanship and intricate designs. Red lacquerware was often associated with prosperity, good fortune, and auspiciousness in Eastern cultures.

Japanning: Japanning is a technique of imitating Asian lacquerware using varnish, pigments, and sometimes gold or silver leaf. During the 18th century in England, red japanning became popular and was used to create decorative objects, such as furniture, cabinets, and screens. Red japanned pieces were often adorned with intricate designs, including Chinoiserie motifs, which were inspired by Eastern art and design.

During the early 18th century in France, red japanned furniture with ormolu mounts, often in the Louis XV rococo style, became fashionable. These pieces featured red-painted backgrounds with ormolu mounts, creating a striking contrast and adding elegance and luxury to furniture.

The symbolism of red:

In Western symbolism, red has been associated with various meanings, including passion, love, power, and vitality. It has also been associated with religious or mythological references, such as the Roman god Mars, who was associated with war and courage and was often depicted wearing red armour. In Eastern cultures, red is often associated with good luck, prosperity, and happiness.

In summary, red has been used in the decorative arts, including porcelain, oriental lacquer, and japanning, to create striking and visually appealing effects. It has been associated with various meanings and symbolisms, both in Western and Eastern cultures, and has been used to evoke emotions, convey messages, and enhance the aesthetic appeal of decorative objects.


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