Pair of andirons with a Chinese couple.
18th century, Louis XV period.
This pair of andirons illustrates the rocaille style. It is composed of plant motifs, shells and cartouches from which emerges a dog's head. They are surmounted by a couple of characters sheltered by an umbrella and inspired by the Far East.
The "chinoiseries" present a decorative repertoire where imaginary motifs inspired by the oriental arts are mixed with rocaille decorations. This exotic dream had a place of choice in the arts during the eighteenth century. Present in all fields (fabrics, furniture, architecture...) and everywhere in Europe, chinoiseries owe their exceptional success to their seductive paradisiacal imagery, as well as to the marvelous affabulations of travelling merchants. The stories of Marco Polo or Jean de Mandeville gave a fabulous vision of the Far East. European writers have built their image of China, based both on true and imaginary facts.
But in the field of decorative arts, they did more than just imagine: they imitated and copied ceramics, lacquers and precious fabrics imported from China. Thus, in the 18th century, all the castles in Europe had a Chinese salon or a pagoda set up in an English garden.