Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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The Costume of China: Illustrated by Sixty Engravings in English and French

  • Description

    This is a an early published copy of the George Henry Mason's Costumes of China, one of the oldest illustrated books on Chinese customs to be published in English. It provides printed illustrations of watercolours produced in workshops chiefly for sale to foreigners, for whom they functioned as records of the exotic. The original leatherbound volume created by Mason is also part of the Ashmolean's collections [EA2003.4], in which the original watercolours purchased by in Canton in 1789 are pasted. This also includes the author’s manuscript together with details of the publisher’s and printer’s quotes and a newspaper cutting announcing the publication. Although published under the title Costumes of China, these watercolours equally record trade and leisure activities.

  • Details

    Associated place
    published 4 May 1799
    after Thomas Stothard (1755 - 1834) (engraver)
    Associated people
    William Miller (1769 - 1845) (publisher)
    Material and technique
    stipple engraving; bound in leather
    book 36.8 x 27.8 x 3.4 cm (height x width x depth)
    page 36 x 26 cm (height x width)
    Material index
    Technique index
    Object type index
    No. of items
    Credit line
    Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund, the Friends of the Ashmolean Museum, and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund, 2003.
    Accession no.
  • Further reading

    Vainker, Shelagh, ‘Costumes of China’, Orientations, 34/November, (2003), passim


stipple engraving

  • stipple engraving

    Technique of tapping the surface of a material with a pointed implement to produce a pattern of tiny dots that builds up to create a picture.


    • Second floor | Room 38 | China from 800

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