chi·​noi·​se·​rie | \ shēn-ˈwäz-rē How to pronounce chinoiserie (audio) , -ˈwä-zə-; ˌshēn-ˌwäz-ˈrē, -ˌwä-zə- \

Definition of chinoiserie

: a style in art (as in decoration) reflecting Chinese qualities or motifs also : an object or decoration in this style

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In 1670, King Louis XIV had the Trianon de Porcelaine erected at Versailles. It was a small structure-a pleasure house built for the king's mistress-and it was decorated with chinoiserie and faced with faience tiles with a blue and white chinoiserie pattern. The building persists in history as the first major example of chinoiserie-the English word is borrowed straight from French, which based the word on chinois, its word for "Chinese"-but the trend it began long outlasted the building itself, which was destroyed a mere 17 years later to make way for the Grand Trianon. Chinoiserie itself was popular throughout the 17th and 18th centuries and enjoyed a brief revival in the 1930s. And people still enjoy it today.

Examples of chinoiserie in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web One of the subsets of Orientalism is chinoiserie, the interpretation of Asian design themes by Europeans. Stefanie Waldek, House Beautiful, 14 May 2021 One of my prized possessions is a vintage pink chinoiserie opera coat with big cuffs and feathers. Rachel Syme, The New Yorker, 11 Apr. 2021 Oozing with chinoiserie style, this cute little shelf is perfect for the nooks and crannies in your home. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, 9 Apr. 2021 Multitasking furnishings can also be found off the open-concept kitchen, where a drop-leaf chinoiserie table displays objects but can also double as a work space in a pinch. Laurel Benedum, ELLE Decor, 16 Mar. 2021 Plates are toile, wallpaper is chinoiserie, and when in doubt, throw in a chintz. Vogue, 11 Mar. 2021 But some 17th- and 18th-century critics did deride the chinoiserie, not only for being a chaotic and hedonistic style, but also for potentially making a mockery of Chinese art and design. Stefanie Waldek, House Beautiful, 17 Nov. 2020 How to Decoupage a Chinoiserie Pumpkin Patterned fabric offers a shortcut to creating beautiful chinoiserie pumpkins. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 10 Sep. 2020 Although de Gournay occasionally ventures into more contemporary and abstract styles—a design by India Mahdavi in Milan's Chez Nina consists of an geometric black-and-gold pattern, for example—their traditional chinoiserie is the star of the show. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 12 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'chinoiserie.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of chinoiserie

1883, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for chinoiserie

French, from chinois Chinese, from Chine China

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The first known use of chinoiserie was in 1883

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Last Updated

22 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Chinoiserie.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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