2Covet are pleased to present The Editor’s Picks. We are continuing our focus on Asian Art with a Rare Pair of Large Chinese Export Reverse Glass Paintings, from the exceptional 2Covet Dealer, Brandt Asian Art.
Reverse glass paintings originate from the West, but were developed synonymously with the maritime export trading between Asia and Europe. China’s earliest citation of painting on glass refers to the arrival of Jesuit missionaries who noted the mirror and glass production to the Kangxi Court in the 17th Century. However, by the mid 18th Century, this had progressed to the speciality production of glass painting in Canton, whereby foreign clients desired the composite pieces produced by export painting workshops.
The technique of glass painting entails building the piece up in reverse, meaning the final details must be added first with precision as the rest of the piece builds up around this meticulous artistry to build layer upon layer, finishing with the background. The image itself is overturned and viewed from the unpainted side, with light shone directly onto the piece rather than through the glass.
These exquisite pieces from Brandt Asian Art are a fine example of Chinese reverse glass paintings.
One of the paintings depicts the foreign merchants factories, quayside and small shipping at Canton, prior to the fire of 1822. The buildings are flying Spanish, Philippine, American, Swedish, British and Dutch flags. The second painting portrays a rare view of a busy Copenhagen canal scene, the affluent destination for many of the exotic China trade goods, produced all around Guangdong Provence. Both paintings are in contemporary hong mu frames, circa 1800-1820.