Such a fine, beautiful thing! This is a 19th century Chinese painting executed in gouache on pith paper--a type of paper (resembling rice paper) that came into use in China in the 1820s (reaching its heyday in the 1830s and 40s) as a means to satisfy the increasing demand for small, inexpensive and easily transported souvenirs, following the massive growth in the China Trade in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Pith paper was made from the cellular tissue found in the stem of a small tree called Tetrapanax Papyrifera, native to south-west China.
Pith paintings typically depicted local subjects such as cultivated flora, indigenous birds and insects, and local trades, customs and costumes. This one I believe would be referred to as an "occupational" painting, featuring a worker with horse-drawn cart. The fineness and specificity of it is just fantastic, with those seven precisely positioned, harnessed horses, man in blue and grey alongside them, whip trailing gracefully through the air, and then that fantastic cart, loaded with what I believe are very large baskets. On the right side of this piece in black is hand-written text, perhaps descriptive of the painting, and on the lower right appears to be a signature in red--a rarity among pith paintings as I understand it.
This painting is in good antique condition. Please note, the paper is brighter (whiter) in actuality than appears in detail photos. There is some spotting to the pith paper and one very light crease (visible only if viewed from a certain angle) and a few small holes in the paper near the right side. (See photos) It is framed with a double matte (tan over white) and in a wooden frame painted silver with black speckles. However, the glass is missing. I am happy to have a new pane of glass cut for this and inserted before shipping (no charge) OR ship as is if you wish to reframe it; just let me know. The frame is paper backed and wired for hanging. Image size: 13 1/8" x 8 1/2"; frame: 18 1/8" x 13 5/8"