LaunchPad (4 of 18)
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Period & Style

Museum Practice

Video Type

This video was created for LaunchPad, a program of digital interpretive materials that supplement the viewing of works of art on display in the Art Institute of Chicago's galleries.

As a result of the series of trade routes known as the Silk Road, Europeans had long been fascinated with goods from East Asia. Trade in Chinese and Japanese silks, porcelains, and lacquer, which had begun in the Middle Ages, grew to massive proportions in the 17th and 18th centuries. Western craftsmen responded to the vogue for Asian luxury goods by producing objects inspired by the East. This scarlet lacquered cabinet, decorated with exotic figures and landscapes in gold and silver leaf, was probably attributed to the English furniture maker Giles Grendey in the "chinoiserie" style.

With the help of animation, we can look more closely at some of the whimsical aspects of the desk, including a pillar that pulls out to reveal a hollow compartment, the perfect hiding place for personal papers or other valuables.


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