Plate Books / Fashion & Costume

Price: EUR 1500,00

[Chinese Pith Paintings]

Album Chinois

Ca 1860s. Album 18 x 24 cm.The pith paintings 11 x 7 cm. 24 pith paintings on 16 leaves. 8 of the leaves have a single painting and the other 8 have 2 paintings each.

Binding in black cloth with title in gilt at the front board. Spine partly detached. Boards water stained in the upper corners. Guard papers with some foxing, stains, tears and small losses. The backing paper and the pith paintings slightly smudged. Some small losses and tears to the pith paintings, but they are less damaged than the average pith painting on the market.

The paintings depict chinese figures holding fish lanterns, a couple of dragonfly lanterns as well as a few other type of lanterns. There are also a couple of figures with no lanterns. There are also paintings of fruit, birds, junks, butterflies and plants. The paintings are housed in a european binding, probably french. Each painting framed by decorative bands in gilt and blue. The paintings are executed on pith which is a material that is shaved of the inner bark of the plant Tetrapanax Papyrifer, native to southern China. The thin leaves are translucent and creates a remarkable lightness to the paintings. Pith painting is a skilled art form where the paint sits partly on top of the leaves withhout merging with the backing, like it would if it was executed on paper. This gives a deep effect, a bit like 3-D. The paintings are like sparkling jewels thanks to the colourful and detailed painting technique. From the 1820s throughout the 19th century pith paintings were produced mainly in large studios by highly skilled artists in the great eastern port cities of China, for export to the west. At first in Canton but after the First Opium War (1839- 1841) in other places when more ports opened to foreign trade. The most intense period for the production of pith paintings was the mid 19th century. Not only did the paintings appeal to western buyers because of their beauty but they were also easy to transport and were at that time durable, especially since they came in albums and later in silk covered boxes with glas tops. This is also why they for the most part have preserved their bright colours. With time the pith became quite brittle and today most examples have missing pieces and tears.

Item No: 4070