Face Screens in wood with penwork and polychrome Chinoiserie decoration.
screens are a pair, but each one depicts a different scene within the
same genre framed by differing designs, which are of identical stylistic
They are a tour de force of design orchestration and
Although in the Chinoiserie tradition of exoticism, the
figures are Moorish rather than Chinese. At the time of painting these
screens, the precise location of countries and the nature of their
people anywhere east of Constantinople, was not understood by
Europeans. The term “
” was loosely used to describe the mythic lands of the East.
framing of the main pictures has one feature in common, the punctuating
of the corners by four butterflies. These provide the starting point for
a series of swirls and lines which form precise spaces which are in turn
filled with diaper patterns characteristic of traditional Chinese
decoration. Outside the patterns, delicate flowers connect the framing
with the main picture, softening the symmetrical surround and
introducing the jolly, colourful, moving figures.
of the screens depicts a man of importance in splendid dress, sitting on
cushions, while a man of lesser rank appears to be introducing a
beautiful girl. Is there a hint of harem activity? :
-- A fascinating topic
for the Europeans.
the other scene the oriental figures are dancing to music played on
exotic (at the time) instruments. There are smiling faces in this scene
and also movement. The spectacular clothes are enhanced with gold
patterns as on the other screen. The reds and greens of the clothes are
bold and the details on the clothes and hats rich.
the faces are sparsely drawn, they show varied expressions. The footwork
and hand gestures are a delight.
by a talented person eager to engage with “
”, the screens are painted with gusto by a skilful hand. The design is
orchestrated with artistry, understanding of Chinese art forms,
imagination and humour.
backs are covered in embossed red paper. see: Hygra Gallery : Antique Face Screens made with paper
The elegant handles are turned and
carved in a variety of designs.
Some of these could be carved but are more likely
; Circa: 1815 ; Materials: wood
Size: Screen 23 cm wide by 19.30 cm; handle 21cm long: 9 inches wide by 7.6 inches;
handle 8.3 inches.
Please refer to the photographs for details of condition.