Saturday, August 15, 2015

CHINESE EXPORT REVERSE PAINTING ON GLASS--How to tell if it's antique or vintage

Last week I didn't preview very carefully; so I ended up relying on my "gut" instinct when items came to the block that I thought might be interesting.........this can either be a good auction strategy; or a very bad one (usually the later).
When this Chinese reverse painting on glass came to the block it didn't get much attention.......I've had these before, and have bought what I thought was old, when in fact the work was simply vintage (and trying to be an antique).
This piece is a bit is well painted with a European theme of two young lovers in a naive style. The detail is quite good--I cannot imagine the thought process required to paint everything backwards so that the true image appears on the front of the glass. The European representation is not one that I've seen replicated in the 20th c. (but that does not mean it hasn't been done). What cinched the deal for me was the symbolism: the young woman is holding a basket of eggs which symbolize new beginnings, creation and protection while the young male lover holds a basket of doves. Doves have come to symbolize love and fidelity. I think we can imagine what these two young lovers are telling each other........

Don't you just love the tiny extended foot of the young female lover? The romantic setting? The well-painted trees (I think that those are supposed to be exotic palm trees) and background? What is not lovable is the reflection of the Chinese tiger-patterned rug on the images--must retake the photos!!
Checking out the back of the frame, it appears to have some age--not 18th c.vintage, but most probably second half of the 19th c. This time frame would match the Victorian-influenced symbolism of the doves and the eggs.
There was one minor detail that I needed to check out before I could be sure that this was a 19th c. work. The clothing of the lovers is in an 18th c. style--but for the piece to have been painted in the 18th c., the glass would need to be hand rolled, with tiny bubbles and an uneven surface.........This glass does not match up with 18th or early 19th c. glass (too bad for me), but it has imperfections, so I'm pretty sure that it dates to the second half of the 19th c. (Victorian era).
And does the painting match up with my goal to bring items with depth or soul into inventory? Yep, I think so. I love that the eggs can symbolize new beginnings, I think that just might be what I'm attempting.
It is going to be another blazing hot day in Pasadena tomorrow (well over 100*) and the ac at the shop needs a facelift. And the SUPER GOOD NEWS is that El Nino is over 90% assured to hit this winter renewing our water table and ending this awful drought.  Of course, homes on hill sides are a major concern for work has begun to protect the burn areas......we'll see what evolves. I do know that I will not be driving in El Nino rains--California drivers are notorious for their lack of driving skills and caution on the freeways when it rains.
Have a super end-of-summer week-end.

Mary & Jones & Cole


  1. Mary this work of art is simply glorious, I love it! The detail and as you say, I have never understood how reverse paintings can be created so intricately!! Send me a new photo or two and I will post it!

    The Arts by Karena
    Artist Nicoletta Belletti

  2. Ps email me soon and let me know when you are having surgery, etc!

    1. Hi Karena, OK...when I get to shop, I'll take more photos. Hope that you are having a great end of summer couple of weeks. xoxoxo Mary