Height incl. frame: 16 1/2 inches, 42 cm
Width incl. frame: 13 inches, 33 cm

Two iron paintings, tiehua

China, 18th century

Two iron paintings, depicting branches of chrysanthemums and orchids on stems. The delicately rendered plants are made of wrought-iron elements, which are crafted individually and bolted together. The paintings are contained within a hardwood frame with a ruyi-shaped metal handle.

These two panels of excellent quality are fine examples of the art of iron forging imitating ink painting, tiehua. The birth of tiehua is attributed to a Wuhu blacksmith, Tang Peng (also known as Tang Tien-chi), 1644 – 1722, who was inspired by Chinese ink paintings by his contemporary, the painter Xiao Yun-Cong (1596 .1673) and vied to recreate these paintings in iron.[1] A set of four iron paintings from the collection of the Shanghai Museum, dated to the 17th century, was included in the exhibition The Chinese Scholar’s Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period at the Asia Society Galleries in New York in 1987.[2]

  1. Jenyns, R.S. and Watson, W., Chinese Art, vol. II, Phaidon, Oxford, 1980, p.104
  2. Li, C. T. and Watt, James C.Y. eds, The Chinese Scholar’s Studio: Artistic Life in the Late Ming Period – An Exhibition from the Shanghai Museum, Thames and Hudson, New York, 1987, no. 68, pp. 120-121.