Iron painting in oval frame

Iron painting in oval frame

China, Qing dynasty, 18th – 19th century

Height incl. frame: 22 inches, 56 cm

Width incl. frame: 17 1/4 inches, 44 cm

An oval iron painting,depicting branches of flowering chrysanthemum. The wrought-iron elements are made individually and jointed together with bolts. The iron painting is contained within an oval hardwood frame.


This striking composition within an unusual oval frame is a fine example of iron imitating ink painting. The art of iron paintings flourished in the late 17th century in the Wuhu city of Anhui province, the technique was derived from hammered iron candleholders in the shape of flowers made for Buddhist temples, hence its name in Chinese tiehua, literally translated ‘iron flowers’. Chrysanthemums are known as the ‘gentleman of flowers’ and are symbolic of intellectual accomplishments. [1] A number of comparable iron paintings that depict flowers or plant motifs is in the John Reilly Jr. collection, and illustrated in The Romance of Chinese Art. [2]

Provenance: private collection, UK

  1. Welch, P. B. Chinese Art – A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2012, p. 25
  2. Hobson, R. L. The Romance of Chinese Art, 1929, Garden City Publishing, New York, pl. 46-6, p. 163