The Occidental interpretation of Chinese art, Chinoiserie, reached its zenith in the mid-eighteenth century, with the French court setting the trend for the rest of Europe. Chinese graphic design lavishly mingled with the decadent, curvilinear forms of the rococo period. Chinese masquerade balls and fetes were all the rage and Chinese pavilions adorned the ornate gardens of monarchs, nobles and newly-moneyed elite.
Chinese imports inspired European craftsmen to come up with imitations. After much trial and error, the secret process of creating hard-paste porcelain was discovered in Delft, Holland in 1708, in the Dresden workshop of an alchemist held a virtual prisoner by his porcelain-obsessed patron Augustus the Strong.
French chinoiserie exuded delicate charm in the works of artists such as Jean-Baptiste Pillement (1728-1808). His gossamer landscapes peopled with enchanting figures were sought after throughout Europe. Madame Pompadour was an enthusiastic patron of painter Francois Boucher (1703-70), who employed chinoiserie motifs on screens, tapestries and stage settings. The languorous chic of the Orient invaded and enlivened salons and pleasure retreats.