Decorative and useful wares from the Orient have fascinated generations of Americans. Objects made in Chinese and Western styles filled out the cargoes of tea, silks, and chinaware which began reaching the United States on American Ships after theMoreDecorative and useful wares from the Orient have fascinated generations of Americans. Objects made in Chinese and Western styles filled out the cargoes of tea, silks, and chinaware which began reaching the United States on American Ships after the Revolutionary War. The luxurious furnishing, fine paintings of ships and ports, and delicate accessories were the truly valuable, lasting prizes of long, arduous voyages.
By the early 1800s, in the words of Samuel Eliot Morison, Boston was the Spain, Salem the Portugal, in the race for Oriental opulence. Great merchant families from these port cities, such as the Crowninshields and the Forbes, established the most important trading companies, virtual dynasties which rivaled those of the Chinese Hong merchants of Canton with whom they dealt.
The homes of the China trade families, their friends and relatives along the Eastern Seaboard became the depositories of a wealth of finely crafted lacquerware, intricately carves ivory and horn. Western-style portraits, marine paintings, watercolor sketches and gouaches.The rich inheritance of the last years of the eighteenth and early decades of the nineteenth century is expertly discussed and illustrated in Carl L.
Crossmans The China Trade. This volume is devoted to all categories of fine objects made for expert, except that of porcelain- a second volume on China trade porcelain is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 1974.A most important section of the present volume presents the early portrait, port and ship painters. The first group of Chinese artists painting in the Western manner for American and European clients has never been clearly identified or accounted for. According to Mr.
Crossman, A great deal of new material has been unearthed and presented, with period references and accounts.... Through use of the Peabody Museums extensive collection of port and ship paintings, it was possible to study signed and labeled works and to identify the styles of several painters, so that paintings in other locations could be attributed. Significant among the discoveries is the identity of the Eshing painter, now known to have been Spoilum.The China Trade is superb visual history.
The 40 full color and 177 black and white illustrations with additional marginal glosses document one of the most exciting and colorful chapters in the American chronicle of foreign trade. And as Ernest S. Dodge notes in his Foreword, It is a book that fills a need and opens new horizons in our knowledge of the cultural manifestations inherited from nearly a century of Sino-American commercial relationship.Carl L.
Crossman is President of the Childs Gallery, Boston. A graduate of Wesleyan University, he was formerly an assistant curator of maritime history at the Peabody Museum, Salem.