This new publication by the National Trust, ISBN 978-0-7078-0428-6, is authored by Emile de Bruijn, Andrew Bush and Helen Clifford. It discusses and illustrates the wallhangings in 45 manors and castles in the UK belonging to the National Trust. Although only 48 pages long, with many colour illustrations, the publication succeeds in giving ample information on type of wallhanging, either painted or printed, history of the house, and most importantly the possible dates when the hanging was done.
Since my visit at Château Filiéres and the sighting of the printed wallpapers there, I have become aware of the extensive distribution in Europe during the eighteenth century of Chinese prints for interior decoration purpose. The acquisition of large flower-and-bird prints emanating from the Schloss Hainfeld, discussed earlier in this blog, also triggered my interest in this hitherto, at least by me, ignored part of Chinese print history. Census of prints and publications such as the present one help to better explain the print production in China and to date the prints. There are still numerous questions – origin (although much indicates Suzhou), transport, source and distribution in Europe, etc. But as more and more information on wallhangings in Europe become available, our understanding of the prints increases.
Emile de Bruijn has pointed out to me that the cranes in one of the Schloss Hainfeld prints is also present in a wallpaper at Felbrigg Hall (the left crane) and the right hand crane in the Chinese Dressing Room at Saltram. Felbrigg is hung 1752, and if the crane was pasted up at this time we have a good measure for dating the print. However, it should be noticed that the crane is cut out from the print and pasted above another print, perhaps in order to cover over some scuffing, so might be a later addition. The crane at Saltram is also cut out from the original print and collaged onto another print. Saltram was hung possibly 1760. I believe it is safe to date the Hainfeld prints to before 1760.
Just to prove the point about the geographical spread of Chinese prints I conclude by showing a print in Schloss Lichtenwalde next to a print recently acquired in Japan.