Reflected Beauty: Chinese Reverse Glass Painting from the Mei Lin Collection (1)
Reflected Beauty: Chinese Reverse Glass Painting from the Mei Lin Collection (3)
Reflected Beauty: Chinese Reverse Glass Painting from the Mei Lin Collection (2)
Reflected Beauty: Chinese Reverse Glass Painting from the Mei Lin Collection (4)
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A unique genre of artwork from the nineteenth and early twentieth century

The exhibition presented charmingly colourful illustrations and vibrant scenes from Chinese mythology and popular literature, auspicious objects, and portraits of lovely ladies and children painted on the reserve side of mirrors.

The examples displayed are surviving nineteenth and early twentieth-century paintings that were locally focused, with painters creating scenes filled with auspicious symbols and literary references that were specifically produced for and sold in the Chinese market.

This group of late Qing dynasty and early Republican period paintings from the Mei Lin Collection also present examples mounted as pocket mirrors and table screens that depict domestic scenes and portraits of “reflected beauties” who display the attire, jewellery, hairstyle, adornment, and distinctions that gave clues to the social classes of the ladies and the changing standards of the times.

Through the maritime trade, mirrors were shipped from Europe to China. Then the novel reverse glass painting followed and made its way to the imperial court.

Text & photos Cammy Yiu