PHOTO: © Presse Museum Fünf Kontinente

Betörend schön. Chinesische Hinterglasbilder aus der Sammlung Mei-Lin

In the organizer's words:

Reverse glass paintings, in which the motif is painted on the back of a glass plate, impress with their vibrant colors and lasting shine. In China, painting behind glass emerged in the 18th century after glass plates, mirrors and oil painting arrived in China from Europe as new materials and techniques.

Particularly in the southern Chinese city of Canton (Guangzhou), a traditional maritime trading center of China, intensive production developed, which also included the manufacture of reverse glass paintings for the non-Chinese market.

Pictures of beautiful women

Specialized workshops produced the colourful depictions as commissioned works or according to standardized designs. European designs were transferred to glass in great detail, Chinese landscapes, birds and flowers, mythological figures and everyday scenes were just as skillfully captured behind glass as the "pictures of beautiful women" (meiren hua), which are the focus of the exhibition.

So-called "meiren hua" are part of the pictorial inventory of Chinese painting and are often associated with seduction and the world of courtesans. The question "What makes a beautiful woman?" arises immediately upon encountering them.

The special exhibition Beguilingly Beautiful

In the exhibition Beguilingly Beautiful, the reverse glass paintings created between the early 19th and mid-20th century show "beautiful women" in elegant settings. They depict specific and precise details of the sitter's appearance and document a changing society in which traditional and modern values clash.

70 of the works on display come from the Mei-Lin Collection, which is one of the largest and internationally renowned collections of Chinese reverse glass art.

The reverse glass paintings are accompanied in the exhibition by textiles and accessories (similar to those shown in the pictures) from the collection of the Museum Fünf Kontinente.

Publication accompanying the exhibition

Beguilingly beautiful. Chinese reverse glass paintings from the Mei-Lin Collection, with texts by Rupprecht Mayer and Simone Bretz, Munich 2024.

Accompanying program to the special exhibition

Events as part of the program accompanying the special exhibition can be found in the program overview on the website of the Museum Fünf Kontinente.

This content has been machine translated.


Museum Fünf Kontinente Maximilianstraße 42 80538 München

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