CHINA TRADE REVERSE GLASS PAINTING
AMERICAN NAVAL OFFICER
Famed 15″ H x 11 7/8″ W
Presented is a China Trade reverse glass painting and original period
frame of an American naval officer which was damaged at the Palm Beach Winter Antiques Show in January, 2008. Somehow
in moving the painting into the show, it was cracked from the lower left corner to just to the left of the subjects head.
The crack is hard to photograph and does not show when viewed from certain positions. We are offering it for
$600.00 which is a drastic write-down of $1000.00, and significantly below our cost. It is shown in the picture,
just below the large pressed brass Federal eagle.
CONDITION: There is a recent crack that starts in the lower
left and runs to the top of the painting just to the left of the subject’s head. In the lower left corner, there are two supplementary
cracks that run 2 inches up the frame’s vertical edge. There are preexisting faint threads of molten glass in an irregular
pattern on the surface of the glass which date back to when it was made.
PLEASE NOTE: The picture in the gallery section below was taken with
the larger piece of glass pushed forward and at a sharp angle to accentuate the damage. This makes
it look worse than it appears when viewed from straight ahead. The photo was edited adjusting the angles of perspective
to make it look as being taken from straight-on. Also, what appears to be a crack under the hand holding the camera
on the left is a reflection as is the darker round spot to the left of the head. It is repairable!
SOLD “AS IS, WHERE IS” WITHOUT WARRANTY other than as to the accuracy of the Statement
of Condition and good title.
The portrait is waist high with the subject standing behind his
ship’s rail. Dating from the late 18th Century, it is of very high quality. The glass is old and shows many
ripples and has some swirls of molten glass that appear as random superficial threads. There are no chips, but their
are some tiny bubbles present. The original period frame has some minor nicks and is made using the tongue and groove
method. Its dust cover has been replaced from the original.
The large cloud burst device on the subject’s chest is a high order military award. There is
significance in the vertical red and white stripped device on his chest likely signifies membership in the
American “Sons of Liberty” whose flag used nine vertical stripes between 1767 and 1776.
The artist’s technique is typical of the period using bright colors and an early attempt
at dimensional shape using subtle shading. The hair and facial features are carefully portrayed by fine brush strokes.
BRIEF HISTORY OF GLASS PAINTING: Painting on glass dates back to the
13th Century in Italy and by the 17th Century had migrated to Central Europe and Germany’s Bavarian region. A French
artist created what is known as Verre Eglomise that changed the process. He painted on the underside of glass with out
using a metallic background. In the late 18th century, the black painted silhouettes of statesmen, royalty and famous personages,
with black and gold bands painted as borders were popular.
History has it that an Italian Jesuit priest, introduced the technique to China around
1715. Canton became the center for reverse glass painting. It became so popular that tourists would seek out the
artists and have their portraits painted. By the 19th century it had become a common export to Europe. Popular subjects for
the Chinese paintings included Chinese and European men and women as portraits in involved in various activities. Landscapes
and harbor scenes are among the most rare subjects and among the most expensive when found. Collectors search for the many
fine examples of China Trade reverse glass paintings from the early to late18th century.
Chinese craftsmen proved adept at copying Western styles and industrial-style workshops employed crews
of low-paid artisans to create the wares that were sold at trade centers called “hongs,” originally along the Pearl River
at Canton and later throughout Asia. Since the artists considered themselves no more than workmen, most did not sign their
Today, signed paintings by the few that did such as Spoilum, Lamqua, Foeiqua, Sunqua and Tinqua
can bring hundreds of thousands of dollars.