Chinese School 
Western Ships in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong
⚈ Sold
Chinese (1775-1900)

Circa 1845
18 x 23½ Inches 22½ x 28 Inches Framed
Unsigned  
   

Chinese School 
 
Chinese (1775-1900)
 
Western Ships in Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong
(China Trade Port View)
⚈ Sold

Circa 1845
18 x 23½ Inches 22½ x 28 Inches Framed
Unsigned  
   

An early mid-19th Century work displaying the international make-up of Hong Kong shipping merchants doing business in tea and silver, among more legal and illicit products traded in China after the First Opium War, which ceded control of the port to the British in 1842. This painting is a sharp example of the naive artistry of some Chinese port painters, taught in the British art traditions. At this point, the signal tower atop the peak has yet to be installed and the upper elevations of Victoria Peak have only been sparsely built upon.

Demand for tea, spices, silks, and Chinese silver helped establish some of the largest Western & Eastern fortunes of their day. A colorful Chinese ship holds the center, with American, Dutch and French ships present alongside the numerous British vessels. One British ship flies the white castle on a red field flag signifying Customs Agents of the British Crown in port. One vessel is also an ocean-going British sidewheel steamer. The architectural style of the city is fairly harmonious, with an exception being the multiple storied British offices to the left of the grove at the base of Victoria Peak.

The view the artist has chosen looks back in a slightly southern direction, more so than many later views, affording a view of the range down Hong Kong Island, one of the 260 territorial islands that make up Hong Kong, or the “fragrant harbor”, as it translates. The bright colors of the clear sky and true blues in the naive picture echo the near-pristine original condition of this oil painting in its original carved Chippendale frame.