From specimen to scrap: Japanese textiles in the British Victorian interior, 1875-1900

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Abstract

This chapter examines the consumption, collection, and display of one body of material culture prominent in late nineteenth-century British interiors, namely Japanese textiles, including plain, figured and embroidered fabrics, embroidered fans and screens, and kimonos. During this period, these objects featured in heated debates on issues of taste. A growing middle class sought to find and exert its place in society, and as Dianne Sachko Macleod had argued, their progress was related to material abundance visible in consumption and display (Macleod, 1996, 277). While the rare European and non-European antiques that formed the heart of so many aristocratic collections continued to be unaffordable to many, the combination of a disposable income and the availability of inexpensive imports or imitation handmade or mass-produced items, such as Japanese or Anglo-Japanese textiles, carried the desired connotations of luxury and exoticism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterial cutlures 1740-1920: the meanings and pleasures of collecting
EditorsJ. Potvin, J., A. Myzelev
Place of PublicationFarnham
PublisherAshgate
Pages129-148
Number of pages250
ISBN (Print)978-0754661443
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

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