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A fine legacy forged in friendship

A long-awaited Beijing exhibition celebrating six decades of diplomatic ties between China and France sheds fresh light on centuries of exchanges, Wang Kaihao reports.

By Wang Kaihao | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-11 07:33
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A pair of egg-shaped vases with gilt painted landscape and figures on light purple ground, made in Sevres. [Photo provided to China Daily]

For French royals, there was a passion for Chinese-style decoration, which can be seen at Versailles, he adds.

"France was both the birthplace of the term 'Chinoiserie' and the driving force behind its development," the curator explains. "In 1700, Louis XIV kicked off his celebrations of the new year, and of a new century, with Chinese-themed festivities, and elevated the fervor for Chinese culture to a new level."

Marie Leszczynska, wife of Louis XV and Queen of France, had a particular affinity for China. She had a room with Eastern aesthetics created in the heart of her private apartment, which was known as the Chinese Chamber.

The queen herself even cooperated with the painters at the royal court to create a series of picturesque images based on accounts given by travelers to China, including an oil painting, Market of Nanjing, which is part of the exhibition.

Curators have also created a replica of the chamber in the center of the gallery to honor the queen's special contribution to the spread of Chinese aesthetics in France.

"There was a deep admiration for Chinese culture among the French aristocracy, and this provided inexhaustible nourishment for intellectuals and artists," Guo says.

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