With the growth of trade between Europe and China from the mid-nineteenth century, Western merchants began to commission souvenirs such as local scenes and portraits to take home. This demand was met by a number of Chinese trade artists painting in a Western style. Unfortunately, most of these artists did not sign their works. Some Chinese export paintings were produced from stock designs painted on an assembly line basis. Chinese artists also used prints as sources from which to master Western conventions for picture construction, such as the use of fixed-point perspective and shading.
This painting is typical of the river and marine scenes produced for the export market, with vast expanses of simply rendered water and sky, often with local shipping shown in the background. The Canton (Zhu Jiang) River in particular captured the imagination of European visitors, and many such paintings survive.
Where to see this painting?
National Army Museum
Royal Hospital Road
Chelsea, London, Greater London, England, SW3 4HT
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.