Folding Screens

folding screen with raised borders and decorative hand-painted design
folding screen with raised borders
decorative folding screen with raised antiqued gold wood borders and hand applied silver leaf
decorative folding screen
hand-painted folding screen with peacocks
folding screen with peacock
arched top folding screen with hand-painted flowers, butterflies, and birds
arched top folding screen
folding screens

Folding Screens in Europe

Some believe that folding screens were introduced to Europe by Marco Polo, who brought them to Italy from his expedition to China. Decorative folding screens instantly caught attention because of there size, beauty and immediately discovered multifunctional qualities. Moreover the uncomplicated construction of the folding screens could be easily reproduced by native masters. Portable decorative screens made their way into the huge dreary rooms of Gothic castles. These first European folding screens were build from chunky oak planks, they were extremely heavy and look more like a fence than an interior piece of furniture. Even though, the decorative appearance of this folding screens was incomparable to original beauty of Chinese folding screens, they made a huge rooms appear much cozier.

In the 17th century folding screens appeared in Europe in all there glory. With elaborate prosperity of a rococo style the popularity of everything exotic and oriental had grown and Chinese decorative screens were reintroduced to Europe. Europeans immediately discovered and valued the dual functionality of folding screens. The ability of the folding screens to partly close a space, dividing it on a separate areas, while providing an artistic and sophisticated look opened a whole new opportunities for space planning. Decorative screens become objects for admiration and even highly valuable collectables. Decorative folding screens were extremely expensive, therefore only wealthiest residence could afford to own them. The most valuable were the Coromandel screens. Black with golden accents or colorfully painted Coromandel screens established themselves in a great palaces. With decorative screen as a backdrop any event that would take place, whether it was a card game, party, or a romantic date would have an aura of mystery.

From Holland to England, from France to Russia folding decorative screens become a must have object in majestic interiors of royalty and nobility. Russian queen Ekaterina II had such a fascination for everything oriental, that she ordered a Chinese palace to be built for herself. The Queen's imagination required painted ceilings, porcelain, wall panels, and luxurious fabrics in a royal Chinoserie style. But after careful calculations by architect Antonio Rinaldy the expense of all desired by Ekaterina II imported Chinese goods was extremely expensive even for a queen. Her Chinese palace was build and exist now in all its glory, interiors of the palace were finished by the best European artisans in Chinoserie designs, but one thing Ekaterina had to have. Guess what was it? Yes, it was an exceptional eight panel lacquered folding screen from China. No one, even the best European artisans, could reproduced famous Chinese screens. Because of special secret formulation of the lacquer and unique application techniques known and cherished by Chinese master artisans. Stunningly beautiful Ekaterina's folding screen featured Chinese princess in the bridal gown with her servants. The Queen ordered this masterpiece placed into her bedroom, so she could please her eyes while resting to sleep.

folding screen

The popularity of the decorative folding screens was revived in XIX-XX centuries. On the edge of the centuries two main directions of interior design appeared; the Arts and Crafts movement's interest in line and quality craftsmanship was developed in England and America, then elsewhere in Europe there was a move towards the decorative swirls, of Art Nouveau. The successors of this two where encompassed in the eclectic Art Deco era that brought back an admiration of oriental arts. Folding screens came back in style once again. On our site we have several decorative screens that are made using traditional Coromandel techniques and executed in Art-Deco style. Traditional oriental landscapes, mysterious hieroglyphs, and traditional Ming Dynasty court scenes hand painted on the folding screens where inspirational for Degas, Van Gogh and other talents of the time.

Art deco coromandel screen
Art Deco origins are vigorously apparent in the sophisticated design of this decorative screen. Art Deco in style this folding screen is made using traditional Coromandel techniques. Beautiful design of this Art Deco screen features running deer that is hand insisted into panels, creating a vivid three dimensional effect, and finished in an antiqued gold leaf... read mote about Art Deco style Coromandel screen >>


history of folding screens - China


Japanese folding screens


folding screens in today's interiors