Fair Highlight — Jorge Welsh Works of Art


Wall mirror
China, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)
Copper decorated with famille rose enamels
H. 50 x L. 32.5 x W. 15.5 cm
Jorge Welsh Works of Art, London/Lisbon

This Wall Mirror showcases an enamelled copper frame with a repoussé moulding setting, likely drawing inspiration from a European metal prototype adapted for the Chinese export market. Interestingly, a Chinese-painted enamel wall sconce with a frame crafted in the same style is located in the Queluz Palace, Portugal.

Throughout the 18th century, Europeans strongly desired wall mirrors adorned with large enamelled copper frames. These artefacts garnered admiration from individuals of all social classes in Europe. As a result, enthusiasts began collecting and exhibiting these exquisite pieces in various locations. Notable examples can be found in esteemed venues such as the Fredensborg Palace on Zealand Island in Denmark, the David Collection in Copenhagen, and the Norwegian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Oslo.

Since the Ming Dynasty, Catholic missionaries from the West arrived in China, signifying an unprecedented stage of Sino-Western interaction. These missions continued for centuries until Qing Emperor Qianlong terminated them, severing the bridge of cultural exchange between the two regions. However, Qianlong’s appreciation of Western art led to the retention of many Western missionaries in his court for artistic commissions. As a result, Western works of art became observable in the palaces, while Chinese works of art began incorporating elements of Western art.

The European fascination with Chinese culture during the 18th century gave rise to the Chinoiserie mania, reflecting their admiration for China as a prosperous civilisation. This led to the collection and display of various Chinese exported artworks by European high society, showcasing their admiration for Chinese culture. The Wall Mirror from Jorge Welsh Works of Art exemplifies this fusion of Chinese and Western aesthetics, featuring classical Chinese symbols in its repoussé work and incorporating vitreous enamel, a material commonly used in Western art.