This nicely done oil painting of a young woman we believe was done in the studio of George Chinnery ((1774-1852). Born in London, he studied at the Royal Academy before moving to Ireland in 1746, where he enjoyed moderate success as an artist. In 1802, he sailed to India, settling first in Madras and later in Calcutta, where he became the leading artist of the British community. In 1825, he moved to southern China, establishing a base in Macau, making regular visits to Canton and later, Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta, where he painted portraits of Chinese merchants and visiting sea captains, as well as landscapes and genre scenes. In the early 1840’s, he became acquainted with Assor and Alloy, two Tanga Sampan girls who he portrayed in several pictures with big rattan fisherman’s hats beside sampans, pictures with high souvenir value among residents and visitors alike.
It is unknown whether this painting is by Chinnery himself or a gifted Chinese pupil. Lamqua, Chinnery’s most notable student, is known to have painted Ah You, A Tanga Sampan Girl, in 1859 (Peabody Essex Museum). The oil colors available at the time were not durable and many surviving oils, as this example, show extensive craquelure, perhaps due to the high bitumen content of the darker pigments.
Oil on canvas, unsigned, and housed in a period ebonized frame with decorative scalloped edges and gilt inset showing minor losses. Dimensions: 17 ½” h x 12 ½” w, actual; 22” h x 17” w, framed.
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