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George Chinnery (1774-1852)
THE PROPERTY OF A LADY OF TITLE
George Chinnery (1774-1852)

A Chinese woman seated, wearing flowers in her hair, jade earrings and blue nankeen dress, holding a feather fan, before a moon window, with a view to a Chinese coastal landscape beyond

Details
George Chinnery (1774-1852) A Chinese woman seated, wearing flowers in her hair, jade earrings and blue nankeen dress, holding a feather fan, before a moon window, with a view to a Chinese coastal landscape beyond oil on canvas 17 7/8 x 15 ¼in. (45.4 x 38.7cm.)
Provenance
John Quilter, Esq., Dock House, Woodbridge, Suffolk; Christie's London, 18 March 1977, lot 134 (£22,000).
Private collection, London.

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Lot Essay

The sitter here, while finely dressed and presented in a grand formal setting, is most probably a Tanka girl at Macao: 'Chinnery's paintings and drawings of the boatwomen (to use his own word) range from portraits in oils to near abstract sketches, ... Their faces often appear more western than Chinese, and some have been mistaken for Eurasians or Parsees; this is not entirely attributable to the preconceptions of the artist, for it seems that the Tanka women were indeed markedly different from the Cantonese.' (P. Conner, George Chinnery 1774-1852 Artist of India and the China Coast, Woodbridge, 1993, p.202). For another portrait in similar format, of a Chinese woman seated before a circular window, see Christie's, 26 June 1981, lot 101 (and the dust-jacket of Patrick Conner's monograph on the artist published in 1993). These portraits of Chinese women are among Chinnery's most attractive work on the China coast. The present work can be compared to Chinnery's portraits of the Hong merchants, in particular the series of portraits of Mowqua, similarly sitting before a circular window, with his symbols of status, and his favoured device of a view onto a local landscape beyond.

There is a variant by Chinnery in the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank collection, for which see exhibition catalogue Chinnery & the China Coast, Hong Kong, 1990, no.22 where attributed to the artist and describing the sitter as 'Eurasian' (the work subsequently accepted as autograph and the sitter Chinese).

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