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The History of Decoupage
The ancient art of "decoupage," named by the French from the verb "decouper" meaning "to cut," began as the latest fashion back to the 17th century, when Louis XIV was presented with a red lacquer-ware table by the Ambassador from Siam in 1682! In Venice, this new art form was known as "lacca contrafatta." In England it was called "chinoiserie," or the more popular term then, "japanning," after the original Asian lacquer-ware.

Nothing like it had been seen before and soon, it became all the rage. In France, Marie Antoinette and her court ladies were snipping away at works by famous artists such as Boucher and Fragonard. Such was the passion for this new art form that court ladies all over Europe were "... cutting up anything they could lay their hands on. An early 18th-century letter written by a Mme Aisse writes:

"We are here in the height of a new passion for cutting up coloured engravings... every lady, great and small is cutting away. These cuttings are pasted on sheets of pasteboard, and then varnished. We make panels, screens, and fireboards of them. There are books and engravings that cost up to 100 lire apiece. If this fashion continues,they will cut up Raphaels!"

"Beauty is everlasting... and dust is for a time."
- Marianne Moore
gypsy@gypsybelles.com
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