Traditional lacquer has a rich history and has been an important part of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Asian decorative arts for centuries. The process of creating lacquerware involves applying layers of lacquer onto a surface, which can then be carved, painted, or decorated in a variety of ways. The result is a durable and beautiful object that has been prized by collectors and connoisseurs for centuries.

In the 18th century, the production of Chinese lacquer was at its peak. The process involved harvesting the sap of the lacquer tree Rhus verniciflua, which was then boiled and mixed with other materials to create a thick, sticky substance. This mixture was then applied to a surface, such as wood or metal, and allowed to dry. Once dry, the surface was sanded and another layer of lacquer was applied. This process was repeated many times until the desired thickness was achieved.

The export trade of oriental lacquer to Europe began in the 16th century but it wasn’t until the 18th century that it became vastly popular in Europe. The European fascination with Chinese lacquer was due to its exoticism and the intricate designs that were created on the surface. The export trade of Chinese lacquer to Europe was primarily through the Dutch East India Company, who had a monopoly on the trade. The Dutch East India Company imported large quantities of lacquer panels and wares into Europe and sold them to wealthy patrons who were eager to acquire these beautiful objects.

The fashion for lacquer furniture and decorative arts in the west can be traced back to the 18th century when European aristocrats began to decorate their homes with Chinese lacquer furniture and objects. These objects were seen as a symbol of wealth and sophistication and were highly prized. The fashion for Chinese lacquer continued into the 19th century when it became popular to create imitation Chinese lacquer Japanned Chinoiserie objects in Europe.

Chinese lacquer has had a lasting impact on decorative arts and continues to be highly prized by collectors and connoisseurs. The intricate designs and beautiful colors that are created on the surface of lacquerware are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the Chinese artisans who have been creating these objects for centuries. The export trade of Chinese lacquer to Europe and the fashion for lacquer furniture and decorative arts in the west are a testament to the enduring appeal of this beautiful and unique art form.


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