The Hapsburgs, one of the most famous royal dynasties in history, had a particular relationship with the art of the “other”; the Far East. In their Schloss Schönbrunn sit the Millionenzimmer and Porzellanzimmer. Both are rooms covered in art of the East, however, with a twist; the images are not original but rather are edited versions created by the royal family themselves. The Millionenzimmer’s walls are covered in intricate frames filled with collaged Mughal album paintings, and the Porzellanzimmer is filled with chinoiserie prints, copied from circulating albums. These rooms were not only created to display the wealth and taste of the royal family, but also to flaunt their ability of rearranging the “exotic” and “fanciful” images into a correct European system of spatial organization and perspective. In other words, engaging in imperial self-formation and self-perfection by visually conquering the “the other” and creating a power distance. The Hapsburg case is only one example of the rampant ethnocentrism present in Europe in the early modern period. History is filled with examples of physical and cultural colonization, such as the British, Spanish, and French invasions of the Americas. However, what is written about less, is the relative image that the East had of the West, for to them, Europe was the other. How do we know that the images that made their way from China, to fall into albums used for the Porzellanzimmer, were not already edited and “watered down” for a European audience? Is it not possible that the rampant Eurocentrism would have not been faced with equal Sinocentrism? It is this decolonized and decentralized perspective of art circulation that I wish to discuss in the following paper, specifically, through the research of one type of art: porcelain.
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