antique prints, maps and watercolors

Chinese Export Watercolor (Packing Tea and Weaving Boxes) c. 1800-1810. Framed $3,600.00

click for detailed image PackingTeaWeavingBoxes.JPG

“Packing Tea Leaves and weaving baskets” 

A gouache watercolor painted on paper depicting an aspect of tea cultivation in China during the late 18 early 19th centuries. Sets of watercolors depicting tea cultivation, porcelain making and silk production were extremely popular in the European and American markets during the height of the China trade.

Originally produced in sets of twelve, the watercolors were meant to be displayed and as such were exposed to harmful elements (why very few exist in good condition and why very few complete sets are available). According to Carl Crossman in his book The Decorative Arts of the China Trade, (pg.170)

"These subjects were immensely popular…, since they explained to the westerner, in a most imaginary, glamorous and unrealistic manner, the making of products sent to the West. The most desired watercolor in a series was the one which depicted a western merchant in a wonderful period dress negotiating with the Chinese merchants. The tea culture series represented all the processes from growing the tea bush to its final shipment and sale. Since tea was the major commodity of the trade these watercolors found a ready market.”

This watercolor depicts the weaving of straw baskets in which the tea was collected. The scene is an outdoor view with a handsome smoking gentleman, a worker pouring tea into a woven basket and a beautiful array of bonsai trees displayed on the garden wall.   


Original gouache watercolor on wove paper, archivally framed.
Sight 13.5 x 18 ¼ inches, Framed 21 ¼ x 25 ¼ inches.
Two small repaired tears (approx. 1”) top center image just under matting outside of image, color intact with no fading, a beautiful original watercolor. 
Excellent original condition.