Cultivating Interiors: Philadelphia, China, and the Natural World

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For eighteenth-century Europeans, Asia and the Americas were strange, distant lands evoking mystery and wonder. Both were believed to be populated by beautiful and unusual flora and fauna, and their vast terrains represented great potential for wealth in their human and natural productions. Since the time of Columbus, Europeans had drawn parallels between Asia and America, and in later periods Europeans and their descendants living in North America continued to link the two regions through complex associations, based on the rich visual and material culture of the decorative arts and the practice of natural history.

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