This lavishly illustrated, full-color catalogue represents the first survey of Historic Deerfield’s Chinese export art collection. Written by Curator of Historic Interiors Amanda E. Lange, it presents new research on the involvement of rural New England in the China trade and features in-depth object entries. 272 pages.
Chinese Export Art at Historic Deerfield explores the decorative arts and the nature of commerce between the West and China. The catalogue includes three essays: “Of Merchants and Mandarins: An Overview of the China Trade,” “The Connecticut River Valley and the China Trade,” and “Collecting Chinese Export Art at Historic Deerfield.” New information on the involvement of rural New England in the China trade dispels the myth that trade with China was exclusively a coastal phenomenon. The stories of Connecticut River Valley merchants, sailors, captains, and wives involved in ventures to China are explored through advertisements, diaries, letters, and actual objects brought home.
The catalogue also features 114 object entires in the categories of graphic arts, silks, metalwares, novelties, and porcelains. Although considered exotic to Western eyes, many of these Chinese products were specifically designed to appeal to foreign tastes. Objects range from porcelain punch bowls to gilded laquerware boxes. One of the rarest objects presented is an album of 24 hand-painted images of the tea production process, from harvesting the leaves to packing them in boxes. A selected bibliography on Chinese export art and an extensive index round out the book.