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East Asian Aesthetics and the Space of Painting in Eighteenth-Century Europe

Isabelle Tillerot
Translated by Chris Miller

An insightful look at how East Asian notions of space transformed Western painting. 

This volume offers the first critical account of how European imports of East Asian textiles, porcelain, and lacquers, along with newly published descriptions of the Chinese garden, inspired a revolution in the role of painting in early modern Europe. With particular focus on French interiors, Isabelle Tillerot reveals how a European enthusiasm for East Asian culture and a demand for novelty transformed the dynamic between painting and decor. Models of space, landscape, and horizon, as shown in Chinese and Japanese objects and their ornamentation, disrupted prevailing design concepts in Europe. With paintings no longer functioning as pictorial windows, they began to be viewed as discrete images displayed on a wall—and with that, their status changed from decorative device to autonomous work of art.

This study presents a detailed history of this transformation, revealing how an aesthetic free from the constraints of symmetry and geometrized order upended paradigms of display, enabling European painting to come into its own.

Isabelle Tillerot is an independent scholar of eighteenth-century French art.

“Tillerot’s book now available in English will provide scholars of eighteenth-century art and architecture new territory for research.”
—Beverly Mitchell, ARLIS/NA

272 pages
7 x 10 inches
46 color and 101 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-797-0

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute