In the West, Chinese and Japanese lacquers were very popular in the furniture arts throughout the 18th century. It was during the reign of Louis XV (1710-1774), King of France and Navarra (1715-1774), from 1730 onwards, that this vogue for lacquered furniture developed under the influence of the Parisian “marchand-mercier”. After importing chests, cabinets and folding screens from Asia to sell them as they were, they had the idea of dismembering them and cutting them up by removing their lacquer panels to decorate Western furniture (writing furniture, chests of drawers, corner cabinets, cupboards, etc.).
The lacquers used on 18th century furniture are of different kinds: the lacquers with gold decoration on a black background generally came from Japan, the so-called “export” painted lacquers with gold or polychrome decoration on a coloured background, as well as the very colourful lacquers known as “coromandel” came from China. Compared to Japanese lacquers, Chinese panels only rarely had reliefs and if they did, they were very weak.
Following this craze and given the rarity of these raw materials, other cabinetmakers make lacquers in the taste of Asia. This fashion lasted until the end of the 18th century, or even the beginning of the 19th century.
Wolvesperges, Thibaut, Le meuble Français en laque au XVIIIe siècle, Paris, Les éditions de l’amateur – Editions Racine, 2011.