All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

JL George – Shanghai Beaux-Arts Furniture

Posted: November 10th, 2021 | No Comments »

I’ve posted previously on Shanghai furniture maker (and after 1949 Hong Kong based) JL George (click here and here). One thing that interests me and, perhaps, makes us think slightly differently of inter-war Shanghai is the early 1920s, early 1930s JL George official stamp. It hopefully makes us think a little bit more about the longer term influences of European modernism on Shanghai and helps challenge the cult of the art-deco in Shanghai.

What I refer to as Shanghai’s ‘cult of art-deco’ is the tendancy by commentators to refer to everything – architecture as well as furniture and interiors – as art-deco. This accentuates the idea of Shanghai as an art-deco city but minimises the broader, and longer trends of colonial-comprador, classical, neo-classicial, modernist, streamline-moderne as well as Mock Tudor, Queene Anne, Moorish, Mediterranean etc alongside unique Shanghai forms of the shikumen and lilong.

The JL George stamp below, to be found on all their pieces of Shanghai-made furniture specifically mentions ‘Chinese Beaux-Arts Carving’. You won’t come across this a lot on the plethora of blog posts, magazine articles and books on Shanghai, due largely to the Cult of Art-Deco that has latterly pervaded the city. What the JL George stamp shows is that earlier and longer running modernist trends were also important in Shanghai and show a longer and deeper trend of modernism in the treaty port.

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