European Shaped Furniture Maker, ca. 1825


 Guangzhou (Canton)

The Art of Shopping in China

On view September 4, 2004 to September 5, 2005

Located in the: Special Exhibition Galleries

In the early 19th century, the port of Guangzhou (Canton) was one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities, offering tea, silk, porcelain, and other luxury goods for international trade. The Art of Shopping in China captures this vital period with more than 40 paintings from the museum's extensive collection of works on paper. Painted on Chinese or imported English paper, the watercolors are bold in color and rich in detail, combining traditional Chinese and Western techniques. Examples of decorative objects for export, such as lacquerware, silk, ivory, and folding fans, are also on display.

Shopping in China reveals much about the thriving community of artists, shopkeepers, and traders in Guangzhou during an era of highly regulated contact between China and the Western world. This dynamic commercial relationship greatly influenced both the arts and the economy of China and the West.

The Asian export art collection at the Peabody Essex Museum is the world's most comprehensive collection of decorative art made in Asia for export to the West. It encompasses paintings, furniture, silver, porcelain, works of art on paper, and a wide range of other objects created between the 15th and the 20th centuries. The collection reflects the complex and fascinating interaction between the artistic and cultural traditions of East and West.

Further Reading