A PAIR OF CHINESE TABLE SCREENS WITH DUTCHMEN PAINTED ON MARBLE
Mid 18th century
On one of the screens, a European man is depicted, holding a fan and being offered a pot with plants by a Chinese (?) boy, on the reverse a line from a poem by the famous Chinese poet Li Bai (701-762) reading “the cup is never empty of wine” with the seal of Li Bai, on the other, a European man is holding a bow or performing some kind of a trick with a plate or a top while a boy is looking on with interest, on the reverse again a line from a poem by Li Bai reading “Li Bai sings after three cups” and the same seal of Li Bai, each in wooden table screen frame.
Each slat H. 16.3 x W. 10.2 cm
Li Bai was the most prominent poet in the Golden Age of China during the Tang Dynasty His poems celebrate the pleasures of friendship, the depth of nature, solitude and in particular the joys of drinking wine. Perhaps his most famous poem is “Waking from Drunkenness on a Spring Day”.
These screens were not made for export but to gratify the curiosity of the Chinese for these red-haired barbarians with their big noses and strange clothing.
Two similar screens in the collection of the Rijksmuseum were exhibited in Volkenkundig Museum Nusantara in Delft in 1986 “Met andere ogen”, depictions of Europeans by distant peoples.