Blossom Time by 18th Century Chinese School


Blossom Time


18th Century Chinese School

Ref GM1106
Type Fine Art Print
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The earliest surviving folding screens are Chinese and date from the eighth century AD although references can be found as far back as the Zhou dynasty (fourth to third century BC). However, it was in Japan that the screen evolved into its most celebrated variations. Japanese folding screens served many purposes such as tea ceremonies, outdoor processions, backgrounds for concerts or dances and enclosures for Buddhist rites. The type of folding varied according to its function. For example, small two-fold screens were used for tea ceremonies, while large, gold-leaf screens with up to eight folds served as backdrops for dancing. An emphasis on mobility required a structure that would be lightweight and flexible. A lightweight but strong core was produced with a lattice of wood covered with many layers of paper. Flexibility was achieved by an ingenious system of strong paper hinges integrated in the panel construction, which allowed reversible folding patterns. The paper hinges brought the panels closer together, eliminating the need for intrusive frames and allowing a horizontal orientation of the picture plane. Western traders first became acquainted with the beauty and utility of screens in the sixteenth century, when they took a particular interest in the folding variety. However, this first encounter with Japanese screens had little direct effect on western art since trade was severely limited by a ban imposed in the mid-1600s. Following a lifting of the ban, the importation of oriental screens to major European cities launched their popularity and adaptation by Westerners. They were displayed at the 1867 International Exhibition for Industry and Art in Paris and numerous major European artists began to collect them.