Mid 18th century Chinese scroll painting on sale at Gorringes of Lewes

Part of the mid 18th century Chinese scroll painting
Part of the mid 18th century Chinese scroll painting

A remarkable mid 18th century Chinese scroll painting is to be offered at auction at Gorringes of Lewes on Thursday October 23, estimated at £60,000 to 80,000.

The scroll is painted in gouache (paint combined with gum arabic) and depicts the European Factories (or Hongs) on the river at Canton. Painted with scrupulous detail, it depicts numerous river-craft, tiny figures and the factories flying their countries’ flags, including Sweden, Denmark, France (the white flag at that time), Holland and the British Isles.

Measuring a remarkable 3ft2 by 9ft1, the scroll is in a fine state of preservation, probably because it would only have been brought out for display on rare occasions.

The Factories, or Hongs, were used for the receiving and distribution of a wide range of trading goods, including silk, tea, porcelain, almonds, sugar and ginger.

It was Alexander Hume, who worked as a factory manager or SuperCargoe (a commercial agent) for the East India Dock Company, who brought the scroll to England in around 1765.

It has remained, by descent, in the same family since that time and is now on the open market for the first time.