Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Asian Lanterns

Like the iconic Asian parasols, paper lanterns that originated in the Far East are a perennial favorite for Western garden parties and summer patios. Tastemakers ranging from Charlotte Moss to Miranda Brooks have used them.

Now that I know about the 1990s exhibition Rain and Snow: The Umbrella in Japanese Art, I'm curious to learn more about paper lanterns. When were they first marketed as souvenirs? When did it become common to paint them?

[John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 1885-6, Oil on canvas, on view at The Tate]

I'm guessing some of the paper lanterns became more commonplace in the West during John Singer Sargent's era. Trade with Japan opened up about that time and there was a mania for "globe-trotter chic." In his painting above, the artist opted for a slightly asymmetric composition, suggestive of Japanese art, and included Japanese paper lanterns.

The Allen Memorial Art Museum offers instructions for making Chinese-inspired lanterns with construction paper. The lesson plan is designed for elementary school educators but I think anyone who wants to do this at home with their kids could just skip to the how-to section.

For vintage lanterns, try The Grand Tour. Related past post, Inspired by Film.

Credits: From the top, Lynn von Kersting's patio as seen in Getaways by Chris Casson Madden, Clarkson Potter 2000; Unidentified vignette from Exotic Style by Sara Bliss; and Miranda Brooks as seen in Bright Young Things, published by Assouline 2000. Photography copyright Jonathan Becker.


Fifi Flowers said...

GREAT lanterns and umbrellas! I feel like some Asian food and a tropical drink with mini umbrella of course! Used love this one called a BOO LOO! YUM... it made me sing OPERA!!!!!

Style Court said...

Fifi -- so glad you enjoyed this one :)

Anonymous said...

Loved this post...I love Asian paper lanterns. Got me thinking about Martha's Vineyard and "Illumination Night"--annual celebration in the town of Oak Bluffs, where all the gingerbread cottages are festooned with paper lanterns...beautiful and magical. There are many online sources for all varieties of paper lanterns (and umbrellas). There are also many photos of Illumination Night scenes on the web...just Google "Illumination Night" and "Oak Bluffs" for a virtual taste of the magic of this Vineyard summer tradition.

Style Court said...

Nell -- thanks for sharing this tip and the vivid description :)

Laura said...

Those lanterns just scream summer--I love them. And that picture of Miranda Brooks has always been one of my favorites.

I'm so glad, too, that you took those pictures of Mitzi and Romano's--those window displays make me smile each morning on my way to work!

Style Court said...

Laura -- they make me smile too :)