This colorful and highly detailed China trade painting contains a wealth of historical maritime data. The view is from Dane's Island, showing in the foreground the western cemetery located there. The famous nine stage Whampoa Pagoda is shown to the left and beyond it the main channel of the Pearl River leading to Canton.
Upon close inspection, the flags and naval ensigns of the United States, Great Britain, Russia, Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal and Austria may be seen flying from the mastheads of the numerous vessels anchored in Whampoa reach. To the right of the town Whampoa Drydock is seen holding a French sailing ship. In the upper right, just above Junk Island, a magnificent royal junk appears, bearing an important member of the nobility, possibly the emperor himself.
Works such as this offer an important chronicle of the period of western maritime expansion. Although the palette is distinctive, the artist, as were the majority of Chinese school painters, is unknown. He has left this legacy for future generations to enjoy, a remarkable and accurate vision of the beginnings of western trade with the far east.
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