Set of twelve Chinese pith paintings of festival processions


This set of Chinese pith paintings depicts a series of vignettes from festival processions, rendered in bright colours against a white background.


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These twelve paintings are a fine example of the Chinese export paintings that were popular during the 19th century. Designed as charming mementos for Western tourists, pith paper paintings such as these typically depicted the flora, fauna, or customs indigenous to the area. Easily transportable, visitors would often stick the collections into photo albums for safe passage home.

This collection depicts twelve scenes from a festival, with each painting depicting a procession. In each, the groups of figures can be seen carrying various objects including celebratory banners, lanterns, parasols, and temples. In one, a group of men carry and play musical instruments, while in another an official is carried in a sedan chair. The figures often interact with each other, imbuing the scenes with a sense of character and activity. The vibrant palette of primary colours stands out: this is aided by the use of the less absorbent pith paper medium, which allows patches of paint to pool on the surface for a raised effect.

The paintings are ensconced in complementary painted wooden frames of a bright shade of red, which are a later addition.

Of fine quality and brimming with charm, this set of paintings gives an interesting insight into 19th century Chinese customs and traditions.

Panel: Height 20cm, width 31cm
Frame: Height 37cm, width 49cm, depth 1.5cm


Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
19th Century
19th Century
Chinese Interest
Painted Wood, Watercolour, Pith Paper


37 cm / 14.6 inches
49 cm / 19.3 inches
1.5 cm / 0.4 inches


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