Chinese artists

Tue, 09/23/2014 - 00:01

The pictures here were produced by Chinese artists working in the European style and date to the 1860s. They show two ships in similar positions off Hong Kong. It seems likely judging by the styles that these two pictures were painted by different artists.

Somewhere - I cannot remember where - I read there was a small industry at that time in the painting of ships for their owners or captains which visited Hong Kong. This was the time of tea clippers etc.. so may well have been a fairly thriving industry for a few talented painters.

I wonder if any Gwulo readers have any information about this school of painting and any names to go with it.


Date picture taken


Hi Sean,

Not something I know anything about, sorry to say. Have you tried any of the museums: of history / of art / maritime ?

Regards, David

Have been to most places. There was a school of Chinese "journeymen" painters who adopted the European - or what they thought was the European - style and lots of ship paintings exist in auction houses and I daresay drawing rooms around the world.

Am just wondering if there is any anecdotal knowledge or written accounts that a Gwulo watcher might know about.



Should have mentioned the ship on the right is Swedish. Called Falco and might - just might - have been how my great grandfather got to HK. The picture is dated 1865  and Falco's home port was Carlshamn which was my great grandfather's home town.


In case you are still interested in that:

In eighteenth century when the Qing court opened Canton as the foreign trading port and granted charter to the Thirteen Hongs, Europeans' entry into the region and their interests in "Chinese art" gave emergence to a typical style of paintings which was considered as neither Chinese nor Western. The huge demand gave rise to local artisans in producing paintings for foreigners. These paintings were catagorised as "Chinese export painting/ trading painting" today, yet by the nineteenth century, they were the Chinese paintings for Europeans and the European paintings for Chinese. As Hong Kong became the British colony, some export painters came to Hong Kong for profit.

Not every export artists were Chinese, but judging by the two paintings here, they should be the works of Chinese artisans.

It could be a long story, but if you are interested, the Museum of Art has an exhibition of these paintings.

Best, Misha

Hi Misha,

Thanks for your interest. Have been through all th crew lists and my ancestor  was never mustered on this ship. The picture isa Chinese production according to a specialist I consulted. Was for sale about a year ago in Stockholm. The Falco sank off the Hebrides, Scotland while carrying coal to Bermuda several years later. She was sailing from Troon when she ran aground. All the crew were rescued.