Images of the Canton Factories 1760-1822: Reading History in Art

Author(s): Paul A. Van Dyke


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.


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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. J rg, 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

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.

List of TablesList of AbbreviationsPrefaceAcknowledgementsIntroductionChapter 1: The Years of the Co-hong 1760-1770Chapter 2: The Opening of Trade and the Debt Crisis 1771-1781Chapter 3: Problems with PorcelainChapter 4: Ups and Downs of Trade 1782-1789Chapter 5: Vantage Points, Perspectives and Artistic PresentationChapter 6: Rise of the Private Traders 1790-1799Chapter 7: American Entrepreneurs and the Brief Return of the French 1800-1814Chapter 8: New British Factories, Return of the Danes, and the Great Fire 1815-1822Chapter 9: The Shopping Streets in the Foreign QuarterConclusionAppendix: Foreign Movements between Canton and Macao 1760-1769BibliographyIndex

General Fields

  • : 9789888208555
  • : Hong Kong University Press
  • : Hong Kong University Press
  • : December 2015
  • : 254mm X 254mm X 15mm
  • : Hong Kong
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Hardback
  • : 951.2750032
  • : 188
  • : 100 color, 32 b&w illustrations
  • : Paul A. Van Dyke