The delicate art of mirror and glass painting which was practiced in China for the export market was much admired in the West in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for its unique format and vivid colors. Canton, a great commercial port of the period, was the center for reverse and mirror-glass painting. The subjects for Chinese reverse paintings ranged from single figures to landscapes to complicated historical and literary scenes as well as native Chinese subjects. The painters themselves are not usually known, and signed examples only began to appear in the nineteenth century.
A number of examples similarly decorated with Chinese figures withing pastoral settings are illustrated in M. Jourdain and R.S. Jenyns, Chinese Export Art in the Eighteenth Century, Norwich, 1950, pp.102-103 including an example with an eighteenth century frame of nearly identical design to this pair, fig.59. A pair retaining their original Georgian giltwood frames from the Estate of Doris Merrill Magowan was sold in these Rooms, 22 May 2002, lot 25 ($361,500).