The drawing provides rare visual documentation of the glass blowing process in China and was made for the western market.

It almost certainly originated from one of the many workshops in Canton and is a good example of pre-Opium War watercolours from China. It depicts a craftsman, equipped with only a few basic tools, blowing a glass vase beside a small coal-fired furnace resembling a domestic oven. Cullet, or recycled glass, is melting in a wok-shaped pan. Paintings of such subjects have a long history and wide distribution in Asia, and adaptation to western taste, seen here in the modelling of the craftsman's body and the cast shadows, must have begun soon after the arrival of Europeans in eastern waters.

Provenance

From a set owned by Major-General William Kirkpatrick, Bengal Army of Hon East India Company; with The Oriental Gallery.




Exhibitions at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

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