PROPERTY FROM A SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTION
A SET OF FOUR CHINA TRADE PAINTINGS
QING DYNASTY, CA. 1880
清 約1880年 《香港》、《澳門》、《廣州》及《廈門》外銷油畫一組四幅
oil on canvas, depicting the ports of Hong Kong, Macao, Canton and Amoy (Xiamen), framed
each 45 by 78 cm, 17 ¾ by 30½ in.
All four canvases have been relined and are attached to modern keyed wooden stretchers. There is a pattern of hairline craquelure throughout, however not distracting, in all four. Inspection under ultra-violet light reveals scattered retouching in all four, in particular:
- view of Canton: lines of in-painting in the sky and traces of residual varnish in the sea;
- view of Macao: clusters of spots and scattered lines of in-painting in the sky, including a circa 4cm vertical line in the upper left possibly addressing an old tear. Traces of residual varnish are also visible in the sea;
- view of Amoy: scattered spots and lines of in-painting in the sky, including a 5 by 5cm area in the upper left quadrant possibly addressing an old tear. Strokes of retouching are also visible along the left, upper, and right framing edges. An area of retouching is also visible in the sea towards the centre of the lower framing edge. One minor spot of paint loss, which appears to be stable, is visible in the tree foliage in the lower right quadrant;
- view of Hong Kong: a few, isolated spots and lines of retouching in the sky, including a circa 6 by 15cm 'π' shaped area in the upper left possibly addressing an old tear.
It should be noted most of the aforementioned retouchings are not visible to the naked eye and the main compositions appear to be virtually untouched.
Overall, these works present well and are ready to hang.
Each presented in modern replicas of Chinese trade frames.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Paul Mason Gallery, London.
Purchased from the above at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, London, in 1987.
Paul Mason Gallery，倫敦
Following the First Opium War, Hong Kong was formally ceded to the British in 1842 under the Treaty of Nanking. The present work demonstrates the settlement's subsequent development into a thriving port. A flag tower is visible on the top of the highest hill to the right known as Victoria Peak (installed in 1861). Visible in the harbour are British, French, American, and Dutch shipping, together with a 3-masted P&O ship and a 3-masted barque owned by Jardine, Matheson & Co.
The view of the Praya Grande in Macao showcases some of the most iconic buildings of the time, some of which are still visible today. In the background on the right are visible St. Anthony's church and the façade of St. Paul, built in 1582. The façade is what remains of the church, destroyed in a fire in 1835. The fortified castle Fortaleza do Monte, built in 1617 by the Portuguese, dominates the harbour atop the hill to the right, while Penha and its church are visible on the hill to the left.
Situated at the mouth of the Pearl River, Canton (now Guangzhou) had long been a flourishing trade city, being the central focus of China and the west under the Canton system, up until the First Opium War. Fires broke out in 1743, 1822, 1841 and 1856, after which the hongs were not rebuilt, as visible in the present work. The view shows the Chinese Godowns with the city wall in the background, and an English paddle steamer, junks, sampans and a marine policy junk.
In 1842, Xiamen (once known as Amoy) became one of the five Treaty Ports opened to British trade. The present view is from the island of Gulangyu, or Kulangsu, now a pedestrian-only island which was then a foreign enclave. Amoy junks (with an eye painted on the bow) are visible, as well as English and French ships. The residences fly French, Dutch, and Portuguese flags.