c1830 Pair Chinese Framed Watercolours of 2 Ships


A really nice pair of 2 early 19th century finely rendered watercolour/gouache paintings on pith paper (often mistakenly referred to as rice paper) of Chinese Ships and Houseboats.

They are wonderfully illustrated in very precise detail, with luminous colouring, and showing small people and waves. The paintings have been elegantly mounted, framed and glazed, protecting the very delicate paper. The pith paper has typical small scattered edge tears, stains, but fortunately, these avoid the painted area, the pictorial representations are intact, bright and visually exciting.

Pith as paper in China seems not to have been adopted for painting until about 1820. Some European museums claim that their paintings on pith come from the end of the eighteenth century but there do not seem to be any dateable examples that are so early. Because of the nature of pith and its cellular structure, the gouache used by the Chinese sat on the surface and produced a bright and even sparkling effect. The paper allows very fine detail but pith paper does not lend itself to the flat wash of colour favoured for European watercolours.

Size image: 21 x 14 cm (8 ¼ x 5 ½ inches)
Size frames: 42 x 36 x 2 cm (16 ½ x 14 1/8 x 3/4 inches)
Weight: 2785g