East by West

Edwardian English "Orientalist" Brass Dresser Tray (LEO Design)

Victorian and Edwardian England was enchanted by the East—especially the Far East.  The leisure class might take a trip to “The Orient” once in a lifetime.  And merchants, like Liberty of London, brought shiploads of Asian ceramics and other artworks to an eager Western consumer.  Aesthetes, designers and other tastemakers (like Dr. Christopher Dresser) would fan the public’s desire by incorporating (adapted) “Oriental” design elements into their Western-made products.  And collectors competed vigorously to build bigger and more comprehensive collections of Chinese and Japanes ceramics—some even commissioning purpose-built rooms to house them (like James McNeil Whistler’s “Peacock Room”).

“Kinco”—an English brass works in Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey (not far outside of London)—produced useful, decorative and affordable objects for the less well-heeled enthusiast. Like the “Chinese” card tray, shown above, Kinco made handsome brass objects “in the Chinese, Japanese, East Indian and Anglo-Persian manner.”  Some of the objects were further enameled or colored, giving the item a rich, more-exotic sensibility.

The brass card tray, above, is just one piece of a large shipment of metalwork recently purchased in England.   


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