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William Alexander (1767-1816)
William Alexander (1767-1816)
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William Alexander (1767-1816)

Walls enclosing a city or town called Pou-een-gin, November 3rd 1793

William Alexander (1767-1816)
Walls enclosing a city or town called Pou-een-gin, November 3rd 1793
pencil and watercolour on paper laid down on card
11 7/8 x 15 ½in. (30.3 x 39.4cm.)
with Martyn Gregory, London, 1985, cat.41, no.1.
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Nicholas Lambourn
Nicholas Lambourn

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Lot Essay

The present watercolour is inscribed 'Walls enclosing a city or town called Pou-een-gin' and dated 'November 3rd 1793' on the reverse, as recorded when with Martyn Gregory in 1985 (the sheet now laid down on a new mount). A variant by Alexander in the British Library is inscribed 'A view of part of the City Wall of Pao-yng-shien, with vessels of various kinds passing under it. From this drawing may be collected a general idea of the manner in which the Walls of cities are constructed in China.'
‘From Peking the British were allowed to take an overland route to Canton. They travelled down the Peiho and the Grand Canal by means of junks, taking about a month to reach Hanchow, a city situated roughly at the half-way point between Peking and Canton. Alexander busied himself making innumerable sketches of life on the Canal, some of which were later worked up into large finished watercolours …’ (S. Legouix, Image of China: William Alexander, London, 1980, p.12). 'On the second of November, the yachts arrived at that part of the canal where it forms a junction with the Yellow River, so called from the yellow mud suspended in it in such quantities, as to render it more like diluted earth than water. Upon the nearest coast, as well, indeed, as on the opposite side, is a very extensive and populous town. The canal here is about three quarters of a mile in width, and forms an excellent harbour for shipping.' (G. Staunton, An Authentic Account of an Embassy...to the Emperor of China, London, 1797, II, pp.402-3).

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