Nicole Brugier notes in Les Laques de Coromandel, Paris, 2015, p.120 that "Hangzhou was a popular tourist destination in China since time immemorial. Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang province, situated 200 km south- west of Shanghai. From 1127 to 1279 it was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty and was famous for its beauty. The old city was built alongside the West Lake, and in the 14th century had the largest population in the world and was a famous site for tourism. It was considered to be the place of retreat for retired civil servants, who engaged in meditation, chrysanthemum cultivation or cricket breeding. Marco Polo visited and admired the lake in the late 13th century, as did Ibn Battuta, the great Berber explorer, in 1346. The lake had a circumference of 15 kilometres and was flanked by mountains on one side and by the city on the other. In order to regulate the flow of water the lake was divided into three parts by two dikes and six bridges, all of which bear or bore poetic names. There are also four islands, on which were built summer pavilions, such as The Island of The Three Lakes and The Island of The Reflection of the Moon. Some of the original pagodas still survive, together with the temple of the “Needle”. The wall seen at the bottom of this screen is no longer in existence. This great city was once known for the magnificence of its public buildings, for the beauty of its bridges, its triumphal arches, and for its great number of canals.", ibid., pp. 120-126.
The Marquis de Fortia d'Urban visited Hangzhou in 1840 and provided his impressions of the city in his Description de la Chine et des États tributaires de l'Empereur, writing that “The lake is famous in the whole Empire for its enchanting views and wonderful walks in dreamy landscapes. [...]. All its banks are covered with hamlets, gardens, nice houses, Triumphal arches made of stone and pavilions of all shapes. There are even several imperial dwellings, in one of which the famous Emperor Kangxi stayed when he visited the southern provinces of his empire.', ibid., p. 126.
Several large Coromandel screens depicting Views of the West Lake and similarly dated to the Kangxi period are known. One example is illustrated in W. de Kesel and Greet Dhont, Coromandel Lacquer Screens, Gent, 2002, fig 48. Other screens are published in Nicole Brugier, Les Laques de Coromandel, Paris, 2015: one coromandel screen but with ten panels belonging to Anne Duchange, is illustrated ibid., p. 121; another screen with twelve panels but of smaller size from the Brugier Collection is illustrated ibid., pp. 122-123. Another screen featuring a view of the West Lake, formerly in the Collection of Louise C. Morgan, sold at Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 29th May to 1 June 1974, lot 571, while a screen with a scene from Hangzhou was sold at Christie's New York, 20th October 2004, lot 448.
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