Chinese artistic influences on the vorticists in London

Ying Ling, Michelle HUANG

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This chapter examines how young poets and artists became interested in Chinese art that in the 1910s was expressed in the tenets of Vorticism. When Ezra Pound came to London in 1908 he got involved in the circle of British poets, artists and critics who held regular social gatherings at the Vienna Café in New Oxford Street. Among them was Laurence Binyon, poet and Assistant Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, who shared with the group his scholarship in Oriental painting. When Binyon was developing his friendship with Pound, Percy Wyndham Lewis and other British Modernists, new art movements were rapidly emerging in Europe. At the same traditional Chinese art was becoming available in museums and in London and other Western art markets. Coinciding with a dynamic change in modern European art, Oriental ideas became an alternative source of inspiration for the West. In 1914, Pound collaborated with Lewis and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska to promote a new artistic movement for which Pound coined the name Vorticism. Gaudier-Brzeska took his inspiration from Chinese animal bronzes of the Zhou dynasty and Lewis from the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. Their common interest in Chinese art, helped formulate the principles of Vorticism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Modernism and Chinoiserie
EditorsAnne Veronica WITCHARD
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780748690954
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Laurence Binyon
  • Ezra Pound
  • Vorticism
  • Henri Gaudier-Brzeska
  • Percy Wyndham Lewis


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