Work of the Fellows: Monographs

The Chinese Taste in Eighteenth-Century England

Porter, David (Fellow, 2002-03)

Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2022

From the publisher's description:

Eighteenth-century consumers in Britain, living in an increasingly globalised world, were infatuated with exotic Chinese and Chinese-styled goods, art and decorative objects. However, they were also often troubled by the alien aesthetic sensibility these goods embodied. This ambivalence figures centrally in the period's experience of China and of contact with foreign countries and cultures more generally. In this book, David Porter analyses the processes by which Chinese aesthetic ideas were assimilated within English culture. Through case studies of individual figures, including William Hogarth and Horace Walpole, and broader reflections on cross-cultural interaction, Porter's readings develop interpretations of eighteenth-century ideas of luxury, consumption, gender, taste and aesthetic nationalism. Illustrated with many examples of Chinese and Chinese-inspired objects and art, this is a major contribution to eighteenth-century cultural history and to the history of contact and exchange between China and the West. Emphasises the importance of the interaction between England and China in the eighteenth century; offers a new approach to material culture to explain the cultural contexts of decorative arts; includes 26 illustrations of Chinese and Chinese-inspired art and objects.


Subjects: History;; Material Culture; Cultural History; British History; International Relations; Chinese Art