Qing Dynasty Chinese Reverse Glass Painting

  • Glass takes the place of a canvas in this Qing Dynasty reverse glass painting from the 19th century
  • Becoming popular during the mid-18th century, the technique required the utmost skill and precision
  • Depicting four figures in an elegant palace setting, it is a highly complex example of the art
  • It was once part of the collection of the Lake House, an Elizabethan country house in Wiltshire
  • Get complete item description here
Item No. 31-5230

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Glass takes the place of canvas in this Qing Dynasty reverse glass painting dating to the 19th century. Chinese painters and calligraphers began the practice of painting in oil on glass in the mid-18th century, and the technique required the utmost skill and precision. Painted layers are applied to the glass in reverse, with the top layer painted first and the background last. Due to the complexity of the process and the high level of artistic skill required, highly detailed examples such as this are only rarely found. Depicting three courtly maidens with a kneeling male figure in an elegant palace setting, it shows a stunning level of detail and retains its vibrant color.

Reverse glass paintings were almost always made for export, as British collectors clamored for all things Chinese during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In fact, the present scene was once part of the collection of the Lake House, an Elizabethan country house in Wiltshire. It is a typical, though elaborate example of the subjects frequently seen in these works, which often depicted bucolic landscapes populated with Chinese figures enjoying leisurely pursuits. An amazing survival of the luxury trade, this painting is completed by its later giltwood frame.

Inscribed "Lake House" (en verso)

Circa 1850

Glass: 28 1/3" high x 19 1/2" wide
Frame: 34 1/8" high x 25 1/2" wide
Qing Dynasty Chinese Reverse Glass Painting
Period: 1816-1918
Origin: Asia
Type: Paintings
Depth: 1.5 Inches
Width: 25.5 Inches
Height: 34.13 Inches
Canvas Width: 19.5 Inches
Canvas Height: 28.5 Inches
Qing Dynasty Chinese Reverse Glass Painting
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