19th Century China Trade Pair of Portraits of Sea Captain and Wife, circa 1850s

19th Century China Trade Pair of Portraits of Sea Captain and Wife, circa 1850s

$5,200.00

19th Century China Trade Pair of Portraits of Sea Captain and Wife, circa 1850s, matched pair of Chinese Export oil on canvas full length portraits of a Sea Captain and his wife, painted on commission in Hong Kong or a related China Trade port.

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19th Century China Trade Pair of Portraits of Sea Captain and Wife, circa 1850s, matched pair of Chinese Export oil on canvas full length portraits of a Sea Captain and his wife, painted on commission in Hong Kong or a related China Trade port. The captain wears a double breasted wool greatcoat over a high collar white shirt with bow tie, black waistcoat and white duck trousers; he holds a white cloth in one hand and rests the other on a table with red Chinese silk drape and his cap. The woman wears a full length black dress with broad hoops and a white collar with what appears to be a cinnabar or lacquered broach; she also holds a white cloth in her crossed hands and leans upon the back of a Victorian lolling chair with Chinese silk damask upholstery.

The fine detail and style of the paintings are characteristic of the China Trade portraits popularly commissioned by captains and officers while they awaited the unloading and lading of cargo. The inclusion of a wife indicates the subject was a ship’s captain (the mates were not allowed the company of wives on the voyages). The style of the captain’s clothing is that seen in the early to mid 19th Century, modeled after that of the Royal Navy. The wife’s attire is clearly of the 1850s (consistent with the chair she is leaning upon).

The paintings are in fine condition, with no discernible damage to the canvas. Examination under a blacklight reveals only a small stabilized chip and minor inpainting of the background alongside the captain, and another larger (but still small) repaired chip with inpainting in the background in lower corner of painting of the wife. There is craquelure to the surface as is almost always seen in Chinese Export pieces (due to how thinly the artists applied their paint), but the paintings remain strong and stable.

The frames are not hand carved Chinese Export frames, they are later than the artwork and appear to be late 19th Century hand carved gesso and gilded. One frame is missing one corner molding, and the other a narrow strip of gilding.

Measures: 16-1/4 in H x 13-1/4 in W
Framed: 20-3/4 in H x 17-3/4 in W x 2-1/4 in Thick.

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