Reverse Glass Plum Blossom Still Life

c. 1900
W: 11.25" D: 1.5" H: 15.25"
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This colorful floral still life is a charming example of Chinese reverse glass painting. Popularized during the Qing dynasty, reverse glass painting requires an artist to essentially work backwards, starting with details and shading before adding color and form. Lending the finished work a subtle three-dimensional effect, this exacting technique doesn't allow for any corrections, and is only revealed to its full effect when the glass pane is turned around.

This example dates to the early 20th century and depicts a tabletop arrangement of plum blossoms in a rouleau vase decorated with the Shou (壽) symbol of longevity. A Buddha's hand citron sits beside the vase, an auspicious offering fruit used to beckon wealth and prosperity. The scene is contrasted by a mirrored background and set within an updated silvery frame.

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