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China Revealed to the West..

Soo-e-Shan or Bohea Hills.crop"China and the Chinese. A series of views from original sketches, displaying the scenery, architecture, social habits, etc., of this ancient and exclusive empire. by Thomas Allom Esquire."

China is a vast country with a huge population and a long history of dynastic empires and battles spanning thousands of years. In 1842, at the end of the first Opium War with Britain, China became accessible to the West through the newly-acquired British port of Hong Kong. China’s different customs, dress, transport and architecture, combined with unfamiliar religious and superstitious beliefs, created an exotic image. China's amazing natural land formations, engineering achievements, and their production of porcelain, silk, cotton, tea and rice, were first graphically revealed to the west in Thomas Allom's wonderful fine engravings c1843.

H.M.Ships Imogene..crop

The Opium Wars resulted when the Chinese authorities tried to stop the British East India Company’s supply of opium from India. Britain sent war ships from India to protect their ships and their trade. Chinese junks were no match for the British navy. With surrender, the Chinese ceded Hong Kong to the British. Pictured are two of the finely engraved scenes illustrating British sailing ships and Chinese junks.

Attack & Capture of Chuenpee.cropEnglish architect and Royal Academy-trained artist, Thomas Allom (1804-1872), was passionate about historical art. There was huge British interest in China so Allom employed skilled topographical engravers to produce fine steel-engravings of his sketches for publication in London. First issued in 1843, they proved so popular that they were re-issued in 1845 and again in 1849. Today it is the 1845 edition of these engravings that are usually seen as engravings were initially issued in groups of six with flimsy paper wrappers that rarely survived handling. Traditionally, these engravings have been hand-tinted with watercolour to highlight their fine detail.

Porcelain Tower, Nanking Allom drew intricate architectural scenes with grand city gates, temples, homes of mandarins and wealthy merchants, and the beautiful porcelain tower. He showed the elaborate lifestyle of the wealthy and the general populace at work and relaxing – including an infamous opium den. Along with commodity production processes, Allom shows an "itinerant” (travelling) barber and doctor at work, and the more leisurely trade of fishing using cormorant birds. Well-composed scenes showed engineering with a bamboo aqueduct and irrigation wheels. Colourful celebrations show a dragonboat on the 5th day of the 5th moon, kite-flying on the 9th day of the 9th moon, and many other celebrations... even burial sites.

Ancient Tombs near Amoy

Today, the whole world is interested in China and its current development. As populations grow, traditions change, and traditional constructions disappear. We are fortunate that Thomas Allom used his architectural and artistic skill, dedication and passion, to create a marvellous historic overview of China and the Chinese. These fine original antique engravings preserve the images of a country with a fascinating history and traditions. They are available on this Antique Print Club website from Prints-Views-China..

Posted: 25/02/2014 2:11:23 PM by | with 0 comments