Large Chinese Qing dynasty reverse glass painting


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Created in China in the first half of the 19th Century, this painting was made for the export market. The scene depicts a European port, with figures in the foreground, boats and ships on the water in the middle ground, and mountains in the distance. The figures on the land, including three figures holding staffs, two young women and a child, gather and watch over a small flock of goats. Two punt boats cross the river, carrying white bundles (possibly wool, or some other sellable good). Classical style and castellated buildings line the banks of the river, and sailing ships and a steamship are depicted in the distance.

The artist has carefully rendered this scene by applying oil paint to the back of a glass sheet, constantly checking the front of the sheet to see how the work was progressing. Known as ‘reverse glass painting’, this technique was mastered by Chinese craftsman during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). Glass paintings, like this piece, were often created for a European market, where they were highly prized for their beautiful compositions and vibrant colours, which appeared translucent and jewel-like through the glass.

Condition: with some damages to the glass, which have been professionally restored.


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
First half 19th Century
Early 19th Century
Figurative Art, Landscape, Marine / Seascape, Urban Views / Townscapes
Glass, Wood
Brown, Multi-coloured


85 cm / 33.5 inches
118 cm / 46.5 inches
3 cm / 1.2 inches


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