[CHINESE EXPORT PAINTING] [YOUQUA?]. Album of twenty-three original Chinese natural history studies of flowers and insects rendered in gouache on pith paper.
Likely Canton: circa 1850. Silk brocade album (as issued), the drawings mounted to the leaves with silk ribbons, the drawings (sight) 7 3/8 x 11 inches (19 x 27.5 cm). The album quite worn, the first drawing cracked into at least two pieces (without significant loss and apparently largely restorable), some minor marginal defects to others, but these generally in excellent condition.
Youqua was a painter specializing in such albums for export. His clientele were Western merchants and travellers to China. Based in Canton, he also had a workshop in Hong Kong. "Old Street" on the label here is probably Old China Street in Canton. He also sold oil paintings on canvas, but the present albums are painted on the pith of Tetrapanax papyrifer, the rice paper plant, a medium commonly used for export albums such as the present. Natural history subjects were quite popular in these, and the designs here are influenced by the botanical illustrations of Maria Sibylla Merian and perhaps also Edward Donovan's Insects of China, though they do not pretend to botanical and entomological accuracy, being largely decorative in effect. See C. L. Crossmann The Decorative Arts of the China Trade Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1991, pp. 200-202, and color plate 70 and pls. 105 and 106 for examples of Youqua's pith paper paintings and label.
C Property of a Massachusetts Gentleman
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