Chinese mirror and glass paintings were produced during the 18th and early 19th Centuries purely for export to the West, their decoration deriving in some degree from European engravings. Painted upon plates of glass, the painting was executed on the back of the glass, a technique which was known in the 18th Century as 'back-painting'. Many of the paintings with water landscapes, like the present lot, were produced in Canton, a centre for painting on glass (M. Jourdain and R. Soame Jenyns, Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century, Norwich, 1967, p. 36).
A mountainous river landscape with a couple in the foreground on the right-hand side, smoking and attended by a small servant and shaded by a tree, seems to have been quite a popular subject. A mirror-painting with this subject was sold anonymously, Sotheby's London, 29 January 1960, lot 114 and another was sold anonymously, in these Rooms, 19 June 1980, lot 94. A further example, one of a pair, was sold by Major-General Sir George Burns K.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., O.B.E., M.C., North Mymms Park, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, Christie's house sale, 24 September 1979, lot 73.