Contributions to the 6th AICCM Book, Paper & Photographic Materials Symposium. 17-19th November 2010, Melbourne. p64-71
Europe’s passion for the Orient is a fascinating thread which can be traced back until the very beginning of Western art history. This passion may be seen nowhere more clearly than in artistic trends witnessed in the 18th century, including the appetite within Europe for Chinese export art: the product of a long, prolific interchange between two completely different worlds and their rich artistic traditions. Commerce between Europe and China was at this time very intense. Trading ships sailing from Canton with cargoes of tea, silk and bulk pottery also carried, as subordinate parts of the commerce, skilfully crafted objects on paper, lacquer and ivory. In Florence, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo (ruled 1765-1790) enthusiastically adopted this Chinese fashion and decorated three of his villas, Villa del Poggio Imperiale, Villa di Castello and Villa della Petraia, with Chinese wallpapers and paintings, now largely conserved in the Pitti Palace Museum of Florence. Focusing on this collection, consisting of about 180 items, this paper will delineate the technical and stylistic characteristics of Chinese export paintings compared to Chinese traditional pictorial art, and will examine the conservation treatment of one painting from the collection together with the considerations which directed the conservation choices.