in 1670, Louis XIV, who was always famous for his luxury, ordered to build a “Chinese palace” for one of his favorite concubines in Versailles. Once the building was completed, it immediately attracted the imitation of European countries.
the 18th century French oil painting astronomer. The characters in the painting were dressed in Chinese clothes
. On January 7, 1700, to celebrate the arrival of the new century, Louis XIV, the “sun King” (reigned from 1643 to 1715), held a grand ball in the magnificent hall of the palace of Versailles in France. When the dignitaries of the upper class in Paris came to the scene, with a burst of music, I saw the king dressed in Chinese clothes and sitting in a Chinese eight lift sedan chair. The whole audience immediately exclaimed. The “Chinese style” dance planned by the Duke of Orleans was actually just a fragment of the special fashion in Europe at that time. This special fashion is the “China fever” that has been popular in Europe for 100 years around the 18th century.
“China is more famous than some parts of Europe itself.”
Europe has been eager to understand China for a long time. As early as the Roman Empire, Chinese silk, as a luxury, once caused a sensation in the upper class society. After entering the 16th century, a large number of missionaries went to China one after another. The various reports they brought back aroused great interest in China in Europe. Among many missionaries, Matteo Ricci had a special position. He not only made great achievements in China, but also became an important figure in introducing Chinese culture to Europe at that time. In the middle of the 16th century, Matteo Ricci first translated the classics four books and Five Classics into western languages. His diary of Matteo Ricci introduced China’s moral and religious thoughts to Europe for the first time.
in the 18th century, China was in the heyday of Kang and Qian dynasties, while Europe was still suffering from sectarian disputes and wars. When the missionaries to China presented a beautiful picture of China in front of them, they immediately attracted the admiration of the whole Europe. As a result, in the 100 years from the end of the 17th century to the end of the 18th century, an unprecedented “China fever” was formed in Europe. In terms of material, cultural and political systems, Europe is so popular with China that in 1769, a European wrote: “China is more famous than some parts of Europe itself.”
“made in China” has become a symbol of fashion and taste.
during the popularity of “China fever” in Europe, people generally loved goods from China and were keen to imitate Chinese artistic style and living customs, so as to form a fashion called “Chinoiserie”. This fashion has penetrated into all aspects of European life, such as daily necessities, home decoration, garden architecture and so on.
since the 17th century, Chinese specialties such as silk, porcelain and tea have begun to enter Europe in large quantities and become luxury goods showing wealth in the upper class society. It is said that when tea was first introduced into Europe, it was once regarded as a good medicine for all diseases by the upper class society, and women often use it to treat migraines. In 1650, the cost of living for an ordinary family in Britain was about £ 5 a year, while the value of a pound (0.45 kg) of tea was as high as £ 10. Chinese porcelain has always been cherished by many princes in Europe. It is regarded as “magic glass of the East”, which can only be seen in the Royal Palace and noble living room.
China’s fine silk is also very popular with European consumers. At that time, the quality of silk produced in Europe was not as good as that of China, so they often painted Chinese patterns and marked “made in China” and sold it as Chinese silk. In addition, lacquerware, fans and even sedan chairs from China once entered the life of European upper class society.
in the process of chasing all kinds of Chinese artifacts, European society has rapidly formed a fashion, including holding Chinese banquets, watching Chinese shadow puppets, raising Chinese goldfish, etc., which have become symbols of high taste. This fashion is most typically reflected in the prevalence of Chinese gardens and architecture in Europe. In 1670, Louis XIV, who was always famous for his luxury, ordered the construction of a “China Palace” for one of his favorite concubines in Versailles. Once the building was completed, it immediately attracted the imitation of European countries. For a time, many representative buildings of Chinese style appeared in Europe, among which the most famous is the Chinese tea pavilion in Prussia’s “worry free Palace”.
due to the fanatical popularity of Chinese fashion, there were many interesting stories at that time. When the missionary father min mingi returned to Europe from China in 1672, he immediately became a star figure. In 1698, a woman who claimed to be a Chinese Princess appeared in Paris and was highly received by the upper class society. However, later, it was found that she was just a female liar from the countryside of France.
compared with “Homer is a fool”
while European society pursues Chinese fashion, the intellectual circles turn their attention to Chinese cultural achievements. In the 18th century, under the strong advocacy of Enlightenment thinkers, Europe set off a half century of Chinese culture fever. Voltaire, a famous thinker, highly praised Confucianism. He once regarded “do not do to others what you do not want” in the Analects of Confucius as the motto that everyone should abide by. Under its influence, this maxim also appeared in the declaration of human rights during the French Revolution. Diderot, another enlightenment thinker, also admired Chinese culture. He called Confucius “Chinese”. In one conversation, he even said that compared with Confucius, “Homer is a fool”.
other European countries have also seen a Chinese cultural fever. For example, in Russia, the great poet eagerly read the literature about China, and rewritten the sentence “how do you know that the coming is not as good as today” in the Analects of Confucius into a poem in the draft of his famous work yevgeni Onegin.
the popularity of Chinese culture in Europe around the 18th century is most concentrated in the popularity of Chinese drama. In 1735, father maroser of France translated and published the French version of orphan Zhao