Chinese School , follower of Spoilum (c.1790-1825)Gardeners Working on a Chinese Estate, c. 1800
Watercolor and gouache on paper, 14 5/8 x 18 1/4 inches (37.15 x 47.63 cm.)
Original Chinese paper mounted on support of thin oriental tissue.
Spoilum (fl. 1765-1805) was the first Chinese artist working for the western market for whom we have a name. The earliest pictures for westerners were reverse paintings on glass, and so Spoilum began his career as a painter of reverse on glass pictures. This watercolor, Gardeners Working on a Chinese Estate, fits in very nicely with the style of Spoilium and his immediate followers practiced at the end of the 18th and very beginning of the 19th century. The palette and drawing of the trees, especially, match the conventions of reverse paintings, oil paintings, and watercolors in the period as seen in the documented and attributed work of Fat Qua. See: Crossman, Carl L. The China Trade (1991), plate 72 (oil), plate 74 (oil), and plate 91 (watercolor).
The large size of this work and its relatively informal subject of “estate care” are both unusual in this period of Chinese art for the western market.