Style Other / Ref.10687
Nam Cheong (active 1845-1870) - Set of four oils on canvas representing Canton Views
Width: 19'' ¼ 49cm
Height: 22'' 56cm
Depth: 1'' ⅛ 3cm
China, 19th century
Set of four oval shaped oil paintings on canvas mounted on gilded wooden frames representing maritime and port scenes from the Pearl River Delta region.
"The nine-storey pagoda in Whampoa", "The entrance to a temple by the water", "Fort Dahangjiao" and "A junk on the sea".
On the back of each canvas is a red "Nam Cheong Painter" stamp.
Nam Cheong is one of the few identified Chinese business artists for Europe. In the middle of the 19th century, this artist probably had a studio in Whampoa. Indeed, many of his paintings depict the Whampoa pagoda and its region.
On one of the canvases, where a tower with typical Chinese architecture breaks the horizontal line created by the shore where boats are moored, a small boat carrying four men glides over the smooth and calm water.
This little boat is found in the same place in another of the four compositions, but this time the earthly life has receded and an immense junk loaded with men and goods has set off. Its flags float in the wind while its sails are not yet deployed. On another canvas, the earthly life no longer exists and the little boat has disappeared: the junk, with sails stretched by the wind, pierces the rough waves. In the distance, other boats stand out on a stormy clouds background. However, the sky suggests a few sunny spells.
Finally, in a port, two small sailing crafts are docking : it is the come back, life on the ground and the family which are depicted. On the shore, two women, one sheltered under an umbrella, the other carrying a child on her back, face each other, while behind them, a barefoot man uses a carrying pole. In the background, the men are so many silhouettes crushed by the immense foliage. Some can be seen, leaning on the wall, contemplating life.
Between genre scenes and marine, these four paintings with picturesque scenery thus work as a cycle in which Namcheong pays tribute to these workers. Painstakingly painted, the small format of these works favors a certain intimacy, and the golden paint encircling their oval format add preciousness and ornament to these paintings.
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