[China, Qing Dynasty, mid-19th century].
Watercolour and gouache on pith paper. Ca. 300 x 190 mm, within silk ribbons. Matted, framed and glazed (415 x 315 mm).
An intriguing and rare pornographic scene of intercourse, likely intended for Western consumption. Pith paper, or "rice paper", which came from the inner pith of the tree Trexapanx Papyrifera (in Chinese "Tongacao"), was introduced in the workshops of Canton in the early 19th century on the instigation of Westerners: its soft, velvety surface was an excellent base for painting in the western way. Erotic pith paper albums were usually of rather low quality, but the present specimen, with its rich colours and softly rendered figures, is a fine exception.