This crisp Chinese export painting dates from the period around 1890. It offers a fine depiction of the harbor area beneath the prominent shape of Victoria Peak. The Chinese artist has utilized nearly a full spectrum of blues, soft in the sky to a deep indigo in the foreground sea to achieve the pleasing contrasts and highlight the ship.
The vessel depicted is the barkentine Linnet, one of several ships of that name built at Captain Marquand’s yard in Chittagong, Burma for the Asian firm of Rustomjee Cowasjee & Sons of Calcutta. As were many of the ships from this yard, the 190 ton merchant barkentine was most likely launched as an opium clipper in the late 1850's for the lucrative drug smuggling trade between India and China.
Many of these fast opium clippers later evolved into respectable merchantmen. Linnet is shown here at a later date sailing under the British flag and wearing the house flag of a more legitimate British firm at her foretop. Trailing astern as the vessel enters Hong Kong harbor is a Hong Kong pilot junk, having just placed the harbor pilot on board to bring Linnet to a safe anchorage.
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