From Waterford to China

Over the garden fence May 20th 2023

This week we welcome a visit from the International Society of Wallpaper hosted by Mr David Skinner

Between 1966 and 1969, Ambrose Congreve remodelled part of the 18th-century section of the house, including the Large Drawing room.

A unique aspect of Mount Congreve is how the Asiatic theme of the gardens is reflected throughout the House.

The finer details From the middle of the 18th century high-value sets of wallpapers were produced in China for export to the homes of Europe’s wealthy classes. Produced in specialist workshops, principally in and around Canton/Guangzhou, Chinese wallpapers have long since been prized for the beauty of their design and colouring, the high level of draughtsmanship and painting employed, and the accuracy with which flora and fauna are depicted. Photographs of the Mount Congreve wallpaper were sent to Emile de Bruijn, author of ‘Chinese Wallpaper in Britain and Ireland’ (Philip Wilson Publishers/National Trust 2017), the leading authority on Chinese wallpapers. Describing the wallpaper as “extraordinary!” Emile identifies the Mount Congreve wallpaper as belonging to the rare category of Chinese ‘print room’ sets which were produced in the 1780s, and of which a small number of examples survive in Europe.Emilie suggested that the wallpaper is of very high, international significance for the following reasons:

  • Not many examples of this type of wallpaper survive
  • The colours are in near-original condition, providing a rare insight into the originally intended effect of such wallpapers
  • It is evidence of the close interaction between the producers and the European markets, the former responding to the tastes of the latter
  • It refers to an important Chinese agricultural treatise and reflects aspects of the prevalent imperial ideology (harmony, productivity, etc.)
  • The technical and artistic skill of the painting is high.


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