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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (glass and frame, made)
    Guangzhou (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1804 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Reverse painting, colours and gilding on glass

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Amyand John Hall

  • Museum number:

    P.11:1, 2-1936

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 6 []

This painting is on glass rather than the usual canvas or paper. It shows a Chinese emperor giving an audience in a winter landscape. The carved and gilt wooden frame, inset with black and gold glass panels, was made in England in the early 19th century. The painting has a companion piece, also in the V&A, depicting a summer scene with court ladies beside a lake and pavilions. These are the largest specimens of Chinese glass painting known today.

Richard Hall (1764-1834) was the 'supercargo' or senior officer in charge of the East India Company's operations in China between 1785 and 1802. During his stay in Canton (modern Guangzhou) he must have been greatly impressed by the art of glass painting, which involved the painting of the image in reverse on the back of a sheet of glass. Shortly after his return to Britain in 1803, he sent two large panels of glass to China to be painted with pictures of the Chinese Emperor and Empress. The paintings remained in his London residence in Portland Place until his death in 1834. They were bequeathed to the V&A in 1936 by his great-grandson, Amyand John Hall.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (glass and frame, made)
Guangzhou (painted)


ca. 1804 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Reverse painting, colours and gilding on glass


Height: 144 cm framed, Width: 221 cm, Depth: 6 cm

Object history note

Glass made in Britain and decorated in Guangzhou (Canton), China; frame made in Britain

Descriptive line


Labels and date

British Galleries:
Chinese glass paintings, using imported glass, had been popular in Europe since the 18th century and were made specifically for export. Here an emperor gives an audience in a winter landscape. Such scenes, which are also found on Chinese wallpapers, were admired in Britain as authentic representations of Chinese life, although they were in fact highly fanciful. [27/03/2003]




East Asia Collection

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