The Tingqua tea trade export painting which comes up at Bonhams this week
This week in London is, of course, a bumper week for Asian art sales, set in the context of Asian Art in London. There is a plethora of goodies but this picture which comes up in the Bonhams sale on Tuesday has caught our eye.
It is a rare export painting by Tingqua (1809-1870), estimated at £20,000 – 30,000 (Lot 248), depicting various stages involved in the production and preparation of tea. Reckoned to be the most famous and prolific of all Chinese watercolour and gouache painters, he was known to foreigners as Tingqua, though his true name was Kwan Luen Chin. Tingqua was the brother of Lamqua, an accomplished Chinese painter in the Western style who had been the protégé of the English painter George Chinnery.
Tingqua chose gouache and watercolours as his medium in part out of familial deference to his older brother, who worked primarily in oils. Tingqua’s studio at 16 China Street, Canton, specialised in gouache and watercolour paintings influenced by Western artistic traditions. These works became known in America primarily through the American China trader Augustine Heard, who brought a substantial collection of Tingqua paintings back to the United States circa 1855. These are now located at the renowned collection in The Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.