23幅中国外销绘画 - 刑罚图画册
长方形对开本（246 x 371 mm）丝质原作集，丝绸装裱（轻微磨损，书脊已修复）。
Quing dynasty, XIXth Century.
Oblong folio (246 x 371 mm.) Silk portfolio, closing ribbon (slightly worn, spine repaired).
23 fine colorful guaches on pith paper, each with a silk ribbon border, depicting punishments and tortures practiced in XIXth century China, such as beheading in which the executioner, having lopped off a head with a sabre, is poised to chop off another. Other scenes include death by “a thousand cuts,” slapping a criminal’s face for telling lies and lashing a prisoner’s buttocks with a bamboo stick.
These brightly coloured paintings were not created by a single artist but by a studio employing a number of artisans, who completed different parts of the work. These craftsmen painted with gouache, meaning watercolours with an added white pigment. This was applied thickly onto the soft, translucent surface of the pith, producing a raised effect. The close similarity of some of the pictures results from mass-production techniques. Templates were widely used to provide the outlines of figures, which could then be coloured. Chinese watercolours on pith have sometimes been called rice paper paintings in English. This is incorrect as they have nothing to do with rice and the pith is not manufactured like paper.
They dealt with many aspects of Chinese life which appealed to foreigners, being called the picture postcards of their day. Criminal justice in China was among the most popular subjects for pith paintings. Foreign visitors were fascinated by a legal system where the accused was not represented and judicial torture was common. There was a macabre interest in the harsh interrogation methods used to extract confessions, such as the finger press, face slapping and suspension by ropes, as well as punishments ranging from beating with bamboo or being forced to wear a wooden yoke (cangue) up to execution by strangulation, beheading or for the most heinous crimes slicing. (Andrew Gosling, National Library of Australia).