Auction 149, Lot 635

"[Lot of 4] View of the Tower of the Thundering Winds on the Borders of the Lake See-Hoo... [and] A Scene in an Historical Play... [and] The Rock of Quang-Yin... [and] Section and Elevation of a Wheel Used by the Chinese for Raising Water", Barrow, John (Sir)

Subject: China & Gulf of Tonkin

Period: 1796 (dated)

Publication: An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King … to the Emperor of China

Color: Black & White

See Description

This lot of vivid engravings appeared in the account of George Macartney's travels to China, published by George Nicol. Macartney was Britain's first envoy to China, and was tasked with convincing Emperor Qianlong to ease restrictions on trade between Great Britain and China by allowing the British to have a permanent embassy in the country.

A. View of the Tower of the Thundering Winds on the Borders of the Lake See-Hoo, Taken from the Vale of Tombs, (17.8 x 12.8"). A cemetery in the shadow of the Leifeng Pagoda is the focus of this lovely engraving, set in what is today Hangzhou. A man kneels and pays his respects in this "vale of tombs" while vessels glide through West Lake in the background. The pagoda was originally constructed in 975 AD to celebrate the birth of the King Qian Chu's son, but it collapsed in 1924 after centuries of abuse, including an attack by Japanese pirates during the Ming Dynasty and widespread stripping of the pagoda's bricks due to their supposed healing powers. Rebuilt in 2002, the pagoda remains one of the "Ten Scenes of West Lake," due to its part in the enduring Legend of the White Snake. Drawn by William Alexander and engraved by John Landseer and T. Shirt. Condition: Just a few minor spots within the image. (A)

B. A Scene in an Historical Play Exhibited on the Chinese Stage, (14.1 x 10.1"). This engraving illustrates a moment from a Chinese play, apparently staged in an open air theater. A band plays behind the scene, which appears to revolve around some sort of court intrigue. Drawn by William Alexander and engraved by James Heath. Condition: Light scattered foxing that is mostly concentrated in the blank margins and a couple of unobtrusive creases near the top of the engraving. There is a crease that runs diagonally in the bottom right corner, well away from image. (A)

C. The Rock of Quang-Yin, with an Excavation Near It's Base, Serving as a Temple and Dwelling for Several Priests of Fo, (9.0 x 7.4"). This engraving shows a rock formation in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. At its base is a Buddhist temple. Ha Long Bay, which is located in the Gulf of Tonkin, is renowned for its towering limestone pillars. Drawn by William Alexander and engraved by James Landseer. Condition: Light scattered foxing. (B+)

D. Section and Elevation of a Wheel Used by the Chinese for Raising Water, (17.8 x 12.8"). This engraving depicts a well engineered Chinese water wheel. Notes beneath the image explain how the design functions. Drawn by John Barrow and engraved by William Skelton. Condition: Light scattered foxing, as well as soiling along the sheet's edges, far from image. (B+)

References: Shirley (BL Atlases) G.BARR-1a.


All on sturdy sheet with "J. Whatman" watermark and generous margins. See description above for additional details.

Estimate: $550 - $700

Sold for: $300

Closed on 5/21/2014