SHANGHAINESE DECO: VANITIES IN THE ROARING TWENTIES

1st March to 15th August, 2014

Shanghai in the 1920s was a cosmopolitan melting pot of East and West. As the gateway to China, travellers from across the globe visited the city and often brought back carved jades, lacquered boxes and traditional Chinese calligraphy as souvenirs. These objects inspired designers in Europe and America, who began to combine Chinese techniques and symbolism with the modern geometric designs of Art Deco.  

 

Curated by fashion historian Meredith Etherington-Smith, Shanghainese Deco: Vanities in the Roaring Twenties contains over 40 pieces from top jewellers Cartier, Lacloche, and Van Cleef & Arpels, including an elaborate black lacquer compact set with carved jade panels and diamond-cut Chinese calligraphy. Each piece portrays orientalism at its height, reflecting the synthesis of cultures and modernity that characterised Shanghai before the outbreak of the Second World War in the 1930s.

Nécessaire Maker: Cartier c. 1925 Gold, enamel, diamond and jade Height 8.33 x Width 4.72 x Length 2.74cm Liang Yi Museum collection

Compact Maker: Lacloche Frères c. 1925 Gold, lacquer, mother-of-pearl and diamond Height 7.1 x Width 5.4 x Length 1cm Liang Yi Museum collection

Powder Box Unknown maker 18th century Wood, coral, ivory and mother-of-pearl Height 3.9cm x Diameter 8.63cm Liang Yi Museum collection

Nécessaire Maker: Cartier c. 1930 Gilded metal, lacquer, gold and lapis lazuli Height 15.5 x Width 11.5 x Length 2.5cm Liang Yi Museum collection

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