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"Chinese" Room

Photo by Dennis McWaters

“CHINESE” ROOM

Walls painted a vivid yellow ochre and unusual woodwork in the “Chinese Taste” makes the room stand out, particularly in contrast to the more formal and staid “Palladian” room next door. The fireplace wall features a bold mantel ornamented with fretwork, pagoda-like scalloped moldings, and canopies topped by pine cone finials. This architectural style is repeated in the overdoor decoration, where canopies might have served for the display of Chinese export porcelain vases or other ceramic figures, and is seen in the two long windows which are topped by scalloped pediments adorned with fretwork. Three of the walls were likely wallpapered in Mason’s time; the reproduction paper present today was copied from an existing 18th-century English example. While chinoiserie, or Chinese-style design, was fashionable in Great Britain in the 1700s, no other rooms with this coordinated style of woodwork are known to have existed in colonial America.

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