18th Mar, 2023 9:30 GMT/BST

British, European and Sporting Pictures

  Lot 1000


George Chinnery (1774-1852)
Macau street scene, with Santa Casa Misericordia and the Leal Senado
Inscribed and dated September 10 (18)36, pen, ink and pencil, 19.5cm by 27.5cm

Exhibited: Martyn Gregory, London, A China Voyage, catalogue 79, 2003, no.21

George Chinnery (1774-1852) was an English artist who lived and worked profusely in India and China. Chinnery is remembered for his portraits painted in British India and more commonly for his sketches of eastern scenes, namely Macau. His works can be found in venerable institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Yale Center for British Art, Tate, and the National Portrait Gallery.

Enrolling at the Royal Academy Schools in 1792 and following the growing presence of the British East India Company in India, Chinnery left for India from London in 1802. On arrival in India on the 21st December 1802, Chinnery settled in Madras and then to Calcutta in 1807. Chinnery’s move was a condition of so many young London-trained artists who sought lucrative portrait commissions in British India. Chinnery’s talent soon rewarded him with a firm position in the echelons of the expatriate community, and rather impressively as the foremost British portraitist in India.

Despite illustrious clientele, Chinnery fled British India in 1825, leaving behind a debt of 30,000 rupees. On the 29th September 1825, Chinnery landed at Macau on the south coast of China and would live here until his death in 1852. Forfeiting the high reputation and grand commissions that he enjoyed in India, Chinnery was in a precarious position, and as a by-product his work was significantly different. Chinnery’s work produced in his Macau years is not only historically important – on par with William Hodges’ and Thomas and William Daniell’s images of India – but, in almost every sense, better, more nuanced, delicate, and responsive. It is Chinnery’s Macau sketches which line the collection of the V&A.

Macau was a hive of trading activity set in a backdrop of European architecture reflecting the Portuguese colonial influence in Macau. Chinnery produced beautifully delicate watercolours and pencil sketches of Macau’s barbers, fisherman, food-vendors, gamblers, and architecture. Daily life in Macau was now Chinnery’s preferred subject.

In Macau street scene, with Santa Casa Misericordia and the Leal Senado, Chinnery sketches a wide foreground to stage the residents of Macau, notably the gamblers and street vendors. As a medium, pen and ink is a style demanding every line capture a dozen details. It is a precise, calculated medium. As such, Chinnery demonstrates his talents as a draughtsman; his concern for detail shines as he takes time to use minimal lines to sketch Macau’s residents in refreshing detail. This is in stark contrast to the lightly drawn Portuguese buildings of the Santa Casa Misericordia and the Leal Senado that we see in the background. Despite Macau’s seemingly dominant European architecture, Chinnery sketches a Macau which here is predominantly Chinese, rather than European. Chinnery provides a fascinating glimpse into Macau in the early 19th century through his assiduous sketching.

Sold for £4,000
Estimated at £4,000 - £6,000


Auction: British, European and Sporting Pictures, 18th Mar, 2023

Traditional Picture Sales offer a wide range of oil paintings, watercolours, drawings and prints from the 15th to the early 20th centuries.

The sale includes the Picture Collection from Denton Hall, Ilkley, West Yorkshire which has been part of the NG Bailey group of companies for over 40 years. NG Bailey is the UK’s leading independent engineering and services business and is owned by the Bailey family. 

A fully illustrated catalogue will be available leading up to the sale.

Entries are invited for forthcoming sales


Sunday 12th March 11am-4pm, Monday 13th March-Friday 17th March 10am-4pm and morning of the sale from 8am. 

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