Singerie is the French word for “Monkey Trick”. It is a genre of the decorative arts depicting monkeys as humans often dressed in fashionable costumes of the period. The singerie was a popular design element in chinoiserie paintings from the Rococo period.
One of the first decorative painting projects I created in the mid-1980′s for The Kips Bay Show House included singerie.
Two of the masters of this style of painting are French artists, Jean Pillement and Christophe Huet.
I visited the Hôtel de Rohan, part of the Musée de l’Histoire to re-visit Huet’s singerie paintings a few weeks ago, and yesterday at the Decorative Arts Museum at the Louvre, I came upon paintings by Jean Pillement, and an 18th c. ceiling filled with monkey tricks.
It’s always fun to discover works that have inspired me through the years in the flesh. I have many decorative art books that feature images of these works which I have turned to many times, but there is nothing like seeing the paintings and observing the true color and the brush strokes in person.
This style of painting is still in demand today. I was recently commissioned to create a chinoiserie panel (with singerie) for a client in Florida.