Image Archive

Detailed Record

Title: Harbor Scene, Canton, China ca. 1855

Accession Number: 1954.590
Type: oil painting
Maker: Chinese artist, unidentified (?)
Place: China, Canton
Date: Circa 1855
Description: Oil painting on canvas by unidentified artist, circa 1855. Depicts a harbor scene in Canton, China. Canton (Guangzhou) was the center of China¿s trade with foreign nations until the 1840s. The Chinese restricted foreign traders to a small section of the city, where they worked and lived in buildings called factories or "hongs." Negotiating through influential Chinese hong merchants, they sold their goods and purchased tea and other Chinese products, which were sent down river to the waiting merchant ships. As trade expanded, opium took on increasing importance among the few outside goods of economic importance to the Chinese. When Chinese authorities attempted to stop the trade in opium, war erupted between China and Great Britain. As a condition of peace, Britain required the opening of five treaty ports, including Shanghai, and established the British colony of Hong Kong. By the 1850s these other ports, and especially Hong Kong, had replaced Canton as the entrepôts for trade with China. Here, an artist painted the hongs at Canton, with their national flags flying, ca. 1850.

Mystic Seaport Image ID m145400    Information regarding reproductions