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Subject:Restoration/Conservation of China Trade Paintings
Posted By: WayanBima Fri, May 04, 2012 IP: 180.249.131.129

Anyone familiar with China trade paintings of the 19th century is well aware that they are prone to exhibit rather extreme craquelure. I’ve been told by one conservator that this is the result of excessive bitumen in the pigments used by the majority of the Chinese artists who were painting these images for export.

My questions are:

1) Has anyone else heard this explanation? Is this the commonly accepted reason for this phenomenon?

The image below is a detail of a decent view of Canton (Hong Kong) circa 1840 that was restored by Simon Parkes in NYC. As one can clearly see the gaps caused by this excessive craquelure have not been in painted…a process normally undertaken when restoring damage to rips and holes.

2) Is this a normal practice when it comes to China Trade paintings, viz, to not “fill in” the gaps with new pigment?

Many thanks for any opinions and insights you can share.




Subject:Re: Restoration/Conservation of China Trade Paintings
Posted By: LEE Sun, May 06, 2012

Hi Wayan, your painting appears tobe 1920's HK. There are modern looking steel steam ships and the building in the back ground looks multistoried. Also the painting is not very fine. I suspect this one is not worth restoring.

Subject:Re: Restoration/Conservation of China Trade Paintings
Posted By: WayanBima Mon, May 07, 2012

Thanks for your input, but the painting illustrated in my post isn’t my painting. It’s a detail shot of one sold at auction by Knoder Galleries in 2006 for $5,000.00. You can view the full painting here, and btw, that painting had already been restored prior to being auctioned.

http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/2331578

I merely used the photo to illustrate the kind of excessive craquelure often encountered in China Trade paintings and to form the basis of my question.


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