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Mottahede Spanjaard.jpg


China, circa 1760, captions later

“A woman with Portuguese hairdo, with gold, silver and gemstone necklace, a skirt under a vest, a koi on her back, called a cloak, a woman customarily inherited the family business, the male humble, to the threshold (Qianlong year, about 1735).”

Gouache on silk, 32 x 25.4 cm

“He is a Westerner who had a white skin. He does not have a heavy beard but plaits his hair. He wears a triangular black hat, short jacket, leather shoes and long stockings. After about seven months he will leave Guangdong by water. At the present he is living in the district Aomen (Macau).” (It seems probable that this Westerner was a Portuguese).

Gouache on silk, 32 x 25.4 cm

“This man is a Hollander. He wears a black felt hat. When he sees a friend he takes it off. This shows his politeness. He wears a short jacket and leather shoes and holds a stick along with a sword. After about seven months he will leave Guangdong province by water. He usually comes to trade in autumn and returns to his country in winter.”

Gouache on silk, 32 x 25.4 cm

“This woman from Holland wears a blue scarf over her hair. Around her neck she wears a necklace made of precious stones, nothing to cover her chest. A long skirt is attached to her dress and a long shawl is thrown over her shoulder. She wears leather shoes.”

Gouache on silk, 32 x 25.4 cm

“This man comes from the country of Luzon (the Philippine Islands), he is Spanish. He wears a triangular felt hat, a cape over his shoulders, a short jacket with narrow sleeves. A pair of cuff-links is buttoned to his shirt sleeves. He also wears tight stockings, red shoes and holds a stick in his hands, showing he is strong and gallant. After about six months he will leave Guangdong by water. He comes to trade in Guangdong in summer and autumn and returns home in winter.”
Gouache on paper, 30 x 23 cm

Collection Mr. & Mrs. Rafi Mottahedeh, bought by Martyn Gregory, sold to a private New York collection.


These Chinese illustrations are from 18th-century volumes, formerly in the Mottahedeh collection, depicting Westerners and other foreigners. The paintings were executed c. 1760 and the captions (here translated more or less literally) were added later.

Several volumes were made and no doubt these were intended to provide instruction in the ways and appearances of unfamiliar foreigners in China (see: David Howard & John Ayers, China for the West, Chinese Porcelain and other Decorative Arts for Export, illustrated from the Mottahedeh Collection. Sotheby Park Bernet, London and New York 1978).

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