Arts & Culture


British officers greeting Chinese mandarins

Anonymousc. 1843

Hong Kong Museum of Art
Hong Kong Museum of Art

This watercolour painting has great historical significance. Despite an inscription in English at the bottom left corner reading "Hong Kong in 1841", the work most probably depicts the official visit of the High Imperial Commissioner, Qiying (or "Keying"), on 26th June 1843 to the then government house for the ratification of the Treaty of Nanking. He is met by Sir Henry Pottinger. After the ratification of the treaty, Hong Kong was officially declared a British Colony, with Pottinger as first Governor.

In the foreground is the entourage. A Chinese mandarin, dressed in a Manchu court robe, is stepping out of a sedan chair. Standing in wait at the side is a foreign official in formal attire, and another foreign official at the top of the stairs is about to greet his guest. It is a very grand occasion. According to Qiying's report, "That foreign leader accompanied by foreign soldiers drawn up in lines, playing music and wearing swords, welcome (us) from a distance...The next day (I) personally went to the chieftains residence. (I) the obedient servant stayed in this foreign house for four days..." The house mentioned by Qiying was the then government house, which was located south of the present Government House within the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens compound.

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  • Title: British officers greeting Chinese mandarins
  • Creator: Anonymous
  • Date Created: c. 1843
  • Theme: Official ceremony
  • School: Chinese export painting
  • Physical Dimensions: w39.5 x h29 cm
  • Location in the artwork: Hong Kong
  • Type: Watercolour on paper

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