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Framed 19th Century Gouache - Four Chinese Figure Studies on Pith Paper



These four Chinese figure studies in gouache have been vibrantly coloured, with a meticulous level of detail to the elaborate dress and facial features. Depicted are three male figures and a female figure, all holding a weapon or implement. Handsomely presented in a gilt wooden frame with a light blue mount, as shown.

Fragile by nature, these paintings on pith paper have kept in remarkably good condition, maintaining their vibrancy by virtue of being stowed away in adequate conditions. Pith came into use for painting to satisfy the increasing demand for small, inexpensive and easily transported souvenirs, following the massive growth in the China Trade in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Because of the nature of pith and its cellular structure, the gouache used by the Chinese sits on the surface and produces a bright and even sparkling effect. Very fine detail could be achieved but pith did not lend itself to the flat wash of colour favoured for European watercolours.

Unsigned. On Pith Paper.


The condition is typical for a picture of this age including some discolouration. There are some small surface impact marks in the paper, three of which have punctured the substrate. The top picture has a 6 cm tear through the figure, however this is held closed by the mount, as shown. Some minor marks to the frame, but otherwise in fine condition.


7.3 x 4.1cm (2.9" x 1.6")
Framed Size: 50.6 x 15.1cm (19.9" x 5.9")

More Information
Code kk414
Date 19th Century
Dimensions 7.3 x 4.1cm
Medium Gouache
Style Realism
Subject Fashion & Costumes
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