History : The translation of Chinese authors of the 3rd century of our era reports its use from the end of the third millennium BC. It is worth noting that the art of lacquer was also known in Korea.

It was the Japanese who, much later, pushed the development of lacquer to perfection. In the 8th century, this art was well practiced and famous, Nashi-Ji lacquer.


The lacquer and Europe: this technique is known by the discoveries of the Compagnies of the Indies and from then on, lacquer became known to the Europeans in the XVIIth century.

1688: Treaty of London on Chinese varnishes by J. STALKER and G. PARKER

1723: Treaty on Chinese varnishes by Father Bonanni

1760: Memory on the varnish of China by the father of Incarville presented to the Royal Academy of Sciences.

1923: work of the French chemist G. Bertrand who definitively reveals the secret of lacquer (lacquer)

Observation: Tactile sense, shine, luminous brilliance of polished forms, sensual perception of wealth. Transparency, opalescence, depth that confers a sense of peace to the viewer. The lacquer transmits the patience and the safety of the hand. Imagination is liberated in spaces, creation of atmosphere, poetic power in graphics, mysterious atmosphere.

Two types of lacquer exist on the decorative arts market. The lacquer of Japan called "Namban" observing a decor of birds and branches blossoming on a black background and the lacquer of China which knew its apogee during the Ming dynasty between 1368 and 1644. The Chinese lacquer is recognizable by its yellow shades, Red, brown, yellow gold and silver white.

For decorations in relief, the latter are modeled in a kind of paste composed of paper and crushed eggshells and mixed with camellia oil.


The special case of the Coromandel technique :

The support is subjected to the same preparations as painted lacquers, but instead of being covered with a silk or paper surface, it is covered with a layer of chalk or clay and then a thick layer of black lacquer.

The decoration is engraved so that the black contours of the design remain in relief. The hollow parts are then painted with the tempera of bright colors that emerge between the black contours in relief.

A second technique consists in tinting in the mass, and in different colors, successive layers of chalk, of which the wooden support is covered. By sculpting more or less deeply, the artist reveals the successive colors of the chalk bottoms. The sculptured frame can be reproduced in several copies by craftsmen, while the main work is the work of the master. The apogee of this technique appears during the reign of Emperor Kien Long. The dominant colors are blue and green, red and dark colors in general.