Images of the Canton Factories 1760–1822

Reading History in Art

(廣州十三行圖像 1760–1822:藝術中的歷史)

Paul A. Van Dyke and Maria Kar-wing Mok

ISBN : 978-988-8208-55-5


September 2015

188 pages, 10″ x 10″, 100 color and 32 b&w illus.

  • HK$550.00
No longer available

Hundreds of Chinese export paintings of Canton trading houses and shopping streets are in museums and private collections throughout the world, and scholars of art and history have often questioned the reliability of these historical paintings. In this illustrated volume, Paul Van Dyke and Maria Mok examine these Chinese export paintings by matching the changes in the images with new historical data collected from various archives. Many factory paintings are reliable historical records in their own right and can be dated to a single year. Dating images with such precision was not possible in the past owing to insufficient information on the scenes. The new findings in this volume provide unprecedented opportunities to re-date many art works and prove that images of the Canton factories painted on canvas by Chinese artists are far more trustworthy than what scholars have believed in the past.

Paul A. Van Dyke is professor of history at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou and author of The Canton Trade: Life and Enterprise on the China Coast, 1700–1845 (Hong Kong University Press, 2005). Maria Kar-wing Mok is a curator at the Hong Kong Museum of Art. She was responsible for the research, exhibitions and publication of the museum’s Historical Pictures Collection.

‘The authors have made extensive use of the archives—largely unexplored hitherto—of the European and American merchants and companies trading at Canton from 1760 to 1822. They have marshalled their evidence with admirable care and clarity; this will be the indispensable book on the subject for years to come.’ —Patrick Conner, author of The Hongs of Canton: Western Merchants in South China 1700–1900, as Seen in Chinese Export Paintings

‘Canton was the place in the 18th and 19th centuries where Chinese and Western traders met. From there, Chinese commodities and knowledge about China spread over the globe. This detailed study on the factory buildings in Canton, the merchants and the trade they conducted is placed within a carefully documented time frame that allows a much better understanding of these East-West interactions. A most welcome and fascinating book!’ —Christiaan J. A. Jörg, professor emeritus, Leiden University

‘The great trade at Canton before the Opium War provided Europeans and North Americans with the finest images and examples of a distant civilization with many works of great beauty. Paul Van Dyke and Maria Mok are global leaders in our new understanding of the trade and its associated arts. This book will be of interest to all who seek the origins of our modern interchanges of goods, ideas, and beauty.’ —John E. Wills Jr., professor emeritus, University of Southern California