Eleven Prints from Hainfeld Castle

Recently Professor Lucie Olivova kindly called my attention to some Chinese woodblock prints coming up for auction sale in beginning of December at Prague. She also sent me images of the prints – six of them are figurative and five are decorative.
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2521-19The latter show birds among rockery and plants, printed in black outline and hand coloured. The style is very much that of decorative wall papers found in 18th century interior decoration. And in fact a search on the Internet shows that they emanate from the Chinesische Zimmer of Schloss Hainfeld in eastern Austria. The Chinese Room was an accoutrement required for many 18th century châteaux and manors in Europe in response to the reigning fashion of chinoiserie. Usually this consisted of decorating a room with Chinese, sometimes Japanese, porcelain, and ornating the room with rococo roquailles and ornaments, including painted “Chinese” wallpapers in cartouches or whole walls. The Kina Slott at Drottningholm; The Royal Pavilion at Brighton; Sanssouci at Potsdam; Chinese Room, Claydon House; etc. An Internet search on chinoiserie will yield many more examples.
But hitherto I had always thought that these wallpapers or wall paintings were painted, either by indigenous Chinese artisans or western copyist. The possibility of them being printed never crossed my mind until I saw the wall decorations in Château de Filières some years ago, briefly referred to in my posting Old Chinese Woodblock Prints in Château de Filières. The twenty-two prints in that Château are very similar to the six from Hainfeld, if not from the same series or workshop.
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The five Hainfeld decorative prints have printed black outlines with colours filled in by hand. They are presently about 107×56 cm, backed up on medium weave canvas. Although now presented in decorative western frames, one can see at the edges of the canvas traces of nail holes indicating that the prints were stretched on some other frame, and/or mounted in a wall frame. The prints have been retouched with thin oil paint, to cover up damages or to enliven the colours. One of the prints has been almost entirely repainted in this thin oil paint.
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Two of the decorative prints are duplicates, but the colouring is such as to make them differ much from each other.
As for the figurative prints, six of them, they are equal in size to the previous, also mounted in western frames. Here as well, one of the print has been entirely covered with oil paint so as to efface much of the original print and text.
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There is a difference in style among the prints: three of them show a lady with attendant(s) in a studio or garden environment, whereas two others only show a lady with a boy, set  in an empty space. The last print depicts a lady with a servant and a boy with various implements laid out on a round mat.
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It is with great anticipation that I look forward to studying these prints in more detail. Oh, yes, almost forgot, I did get the prints at the sale!
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Sorry for the mish mash in the alignment of the illustrations, but I am not literate in this media, yet.

About chiwoopri

Collector and researcher of old Chinese woodblock prints
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2 Responses to Eleven Prints from Hainfeld Castle

  1. Andrew Bush says:

    You might be interested to know that parts of the first ‘Hainfeld Castle’ print that you illustrate, are printed from the same block as collaged prints found at National Trust property Felbrigg Hall and also at Saltram, where they form parts of Chinese wallpaper schemes. There are also similarities with a screen at Clandon Park. You might also be interested to know that we are about to publish a catalogue of our Chinese wallpapers. I read your blog with great interest as a number of our earlier Chinese schemes have wood block printed elements, and am just starting to look into related Chinese prints of the period, including materials, methods and designs.

  2. Andrew just alerted me to this post – I am co-author with him and Dr Helen Clifford of the forthcoming catalogue of Chinese wallpapers in the historic houses of the National Trust.

    In addition to what Andrew mentions, I was also struck by the fourth and fifth prints you show above (with the pheasants on the rock), as there is an almost identical example at Oud Amelisweerd, near Utrecht in the Netherlands, found beneath later papers during conservation work about fifteen years ago. We already knew that that some of the prints at Saltram, Felbrigg Hall and Oud Amelisweerd were related, but this group from Hainfeld Castle provides yet another link. And it is extremely interesting that prints from the same blocks ended up in England, Holland and Austria.

    As Andrew says we have found printed elements on relatively early, mid-eighteenth-century Chinese wallpapers (and pictures used as wallpapers), whereas the nineteenth century Chinese wallpapers that we are aware of are all completely hand-painted. This seems slightly counter-intuitive from our present-day perspective, but perhaps the Chinese painting workshops were so well organised and specialised that as time went on it was simpler and quicker just to paint everything rather than to print first and then add details by hand…?

    Unfortunately it is too late to add the Hainfeld link to our current catalogue, as it is about to go to press, but perhaps we can include it in the next edition or version of it.

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