The Alexandria Association is the city’s oldest organization devoted to the preservation of Alexandria’s historic buildings, landscapes, records, and antiquities; and to education in the decorative, fine, and building arts.
China trade reverse painting on glass was a popular art form for the American market, as many of them document literary, symbolic and historical images in a difficult but radiant material. Églomisé, as it is known, was a technique developed in Europe in pre-Roman times, and revitalized as a popular art in the 16th century and particularly in the 18th century by Jean-Baptise Clomy (1711-1786), from whom the descriptive name is derived. Extravagant use of this technique was common for European households in the 18th century, as independent paintings and as elements in mirrors and furniture. Nathan Lombard, a 19th century cabinetmaker who resided in Sutton, Massachusetts.
Americans acquired some examples through trade with England before the Revolution, but after 1794 when direct trade with China began, the influx of images specifically for the American market was quickly established. Images of “The Battle of Lexington,” “Liberty”, portraits of George Washington after Gilbert Stuart’s painting, “The Landing of the Fathers at Plymouth,” and “The Apotheosis of Washington,” are just a few of those reverse paintings on glass that would have been proudly displayed in American homes of the 18th and 19th centuries, and now today as well. The origins and specifics of the technique, the presence of these in the colonial market, and the exportation of American images will be investigated within the context of the source images, national pride, and the display of these paintings in American homes.
William R. Sargent is an independent scholar and curator, and former H. A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art at the Peabody Essex Museum. He had been with that collection, considered the largest and most comprehensive of its type in the world, for over thirty-two years. He has presented over 250 lectures on Asian export art throughout the United States, in Australia, Canada, England, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Macao, Hong Kong and China. His latest book is Treasures of Chinese Export Ceramics from the Peabody Essex Museum (May 2012).
“…copied with wonderful fidelity…”
CHINA TRADE PAINTINGS ON GLASS FOR AMERICA
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