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George Chinnery (1774-1852)
George Chinnery (1774-1852)

Study of a Tanka boatwoman rowing; Study of a beached Sampan with mother and child; and A sketch for a family group portrait

Details
George Chinnery (1774-1852)
Study of a Tanka boatwoman rowing; Study of a beached Sampan with mother and child; and A sketch for a family group portrait
the first inscribed in shorthand and dated '1843' (upper right); the second inscribed with shorthand (upper right)
the first, pencil, pen and brown ink; the second pencil; and the third pencil, pen and ink;
6 x 8 3/8 in. (15.2 x 21.2 cm.); 4 ½ x 8 ¼ in. (11.4 x 21 cm.); and 4 x 4 in. ( 10.2 x 10.2 cm)
(3)
Provenance
(1) with Spink London, no. APB 6051
(2) and (3) with Martyn Gregory, London, Catalogue 30, no. 79 and 71.

Lot Essay

An almost identical study of a Tanka boatwoman rowing her boat, in pencil, is illustrated in P. Connor's, George Chinnery: Artist of India and the China Coast', (London, 1993, p. 200). O'Connor notes that 'the Tank-Kas occupy a special position within Chinnery's art' and that the Tanka Woman was a 'female symbol of the China coast'. The Tankas were so named after their 'egg-boats' - broad, rounded sampans, and formed a distinct ethnic group, living along the Macau coast in their moored craft.
The third work in the lot, the sketch of a family group, is reminiscent of several other known preparatory pen and ink family group sketches in which Chinnery worked out, using devices such as tables, columns, settees and drapery, the composition of his commission. Connor notes that 'since the anglo-indian family could count itself lucky if both parents survived to middle age, the idealised state of domestic happiness suggested by Chinnery's group portraits were often short lived. (op. cit. p. 122). Indeed in the group offered here the father is noticeably absent. It is possible he is absent having succumbed to the far east climate and fever. Or alternatively as Connor also suggests, it is quite possible the sketch might have been in preparation for a commission to remind a father of his children, having sent them back to Britain to be educated.
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