China at Harewood

The Chinese Wallpaper

The exhibition China at Harewood at Harewood House is the result of finding around 20 rolls of Chinese wallpaper in outbuildings during 1988. The wallpaper dates from the 1760s and is hand-painted with scenes from Chinese life as well as fabulous landscapes.  

The Chinese made wallpapers for the European market but they were rarely used in Chinese homes. However, they do tell us a lot about how China was perceived at the time and offer us a valuable insight into the heritage of China and its people.

Chinese wallpapers became popular in Britain and France as part of the style known as 'Chinoiserie'. Rooms in houses such as Harewood were filled with Chinese porcelain, lacquer work, silks and ivories - all from the Far East. Wallpapers were seen as a prized possession due to their expense but also the time it took to produce them and have them delivered to Britain.

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