A Chinese export drawing of a Canton tea-warehouse by an unknown Chinese artist
Canton, late 18th century
Gouache on paper, H. 30.5 x W. 26 cm
A view inside a Canton tea-warehouse with two British merchants, one tasting tea, the other at a table together with a hong merchant signing contracts, and Chinese workers packing, weighing on tripod scales, marking, and boarding tea chests into a sampan to be taken to an East Indiamen anchored at Whampoa for export to the West. A painting with the same scene, probably by the same hand, is in the collection of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (Hong Kong Maritime Museum Guide, 2013, pp. 34-35). Huge fortunes were made on both sides as Western demand for tea continued to increase throughout the 18th century and well into the 19th century.