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Title Album of Silk Production, 1849
Reference Col. 111, box 1, folder 1
Library Winterthur Library
Collection The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera
Collection Series Collection of Chinese Export Watercolours, [c. 1790 - c. 1860]
Date 1849
Description Women demonstrating the various stages of silk production, including weaving, spinning, and winding silk.
Document Type Painting, Photograph
Theme(s) Trade and Commerce; Arts and Artefacts; Social Life; Cultural Exchange
Keywords commodity, art, goods, trade, chinoiserie, women, silk, spinning, culture, domestic, watercolour, album, weaving, spinning
Countries China; USA
Additional Information

Chinese export watercolors were painted in the port cities of China for sale to western customers in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Until the middle of the 19th century the watercolors were mostly souvenirs brought back by merchants. Afterward, they became commodities in their own right. The watercolors were painted in workshops using mass production techniques. Works were done in watercolor or gouache, initially on European papers, particularly paper produced by the English firm of J Whatman, but later on pith ‘paper’, produced from the pith of the Chinese plant tongcao. Many were issued in sets covering trades, domestic interiors and gardens, boats, birds, mandarins, etc. Particularly popular were sets illustrating tea culture, the silk industry, and the making of porcelain as they explained the products imported to the west. Colors used were those common in Chinese painting, but there was a clear tendency for primary hues to predominate, especially in those done on pith paper.

Please note that some of the metadata for this document has been drawn from the Winterthur Library catalogue.

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