each ink and colors on silk
each 1212 x 978 in. (31.7 x 25.1 cm.)
Acquired from Benjamin Ginsburg Antiquary, New York, 15 May 1981.
De Cordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, The China Trade: Romance and Reality, 1979.
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Lot Essay

These portraits are familiar from the Mottahedeh Album of Foreigners and Minority Peoples of China, sold Sotheby's New York, 7-8 April 1988, lot 67, and partially published in Howard and Ayers, China for the West. Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export Illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection, New York, 1978. That album was a set of four handscrolls commissioned by the emperor Qianlong in 1750 as a part of an image-compilation project. Titled Illustrated Tributaries of the Qing Empire, the scrolls depict various peoples of the world, including from the "western ocean" (hsi-yang) countries. In addition to the Tributaries, two albums aptly titled Album of Birds and Albums of Beasts were produced. Reflecting the imperial view of China as at the center of all nations, the scrolls also reveal a certain curiosity about those outside the Middle Kingdom and ,as Yu-chih Lai describes, ‘the global circulation of images helped the Qianlong emperor construct his vision of ‘world’ and ‘empire’ in dialogue with the traditional rhetoric of Chinese politics’ (Y. Lai, ‘Domesticating the Global and Materializing the Unknown: A Study of the Album of Beasts at the Qianlong Court,’ EurAsian Matters: China, Europe, and The Transcultural Object, 1600-1800, edited by A. Grasskamp, M. Juneja, New York, 2018, p. 127.).
The figures seen in the present lot are identified in Chinese text as being from the Philippines and Sweden.
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