During the Qing dynasty, the Thirteen Hongs in Guangzhou became a bustling hub, attracting a multitude of foreign traders due to the unprecedented prosperity brought about by the“Single Port Trade”system.
The captivating artwork is the 200-year-old masterpiece,“Family Portrait of Lu Wenjin,”currently housed in the Guangzhou Museum of Art. This painting immortalizes the affluent lifestyle of Lu Wenjin, also known as MowquaII, a distinguished figure in the Thirteen Hongs who once led the prestigious Guangli Trading Company - one of the“Four Great Trading Firms.”The scene depicts Lu Wenjin, the goodman of the family, seated in a commanding position and holding a brush as if being ready for writing.
Apart from“Family Portrait of Lu Wenjin,”Lu Wenjin’s legacy includes several realistic portrait oil paintings. One notable piece is“Foreign Trade Merchant,”an artwork crafted by British painter George Chinnery. In contrast to the traditional Chinese painting style seen in“Family Portrait of Lu Wenjin”, this portrait exudes a heightened realism.In this portrayal, Lu Wenjin was attired in ceremonial garments, adorned with court beads, and his headdress rested beside a tea table.
In two distinct genres of painting, the affluent merchant Lu Wenjin presents starkly different personas. Through portrait oil paintings, he seeks to convey to his audience - Western partners - the belief that he possesses the capability to communicate with higher officials and effectively manage wealth, establishing himself as a reliable and long-term partner.Contrastingly, in the character portrayal within the painting“Family Portrait of Lu Wenjin,”Lu Wenjin appears refined and amiable, surrounded by family warmth, showcasing a prestigious lineage and a commendable family ethos. This duality in depictions reflects Lu Wenjin’s strategic efforts to solidify his self-image and strengthen his social network.
Source：Yangcheng Evening News
统筹执行：邓琼 吴小攀 朱绍杰
文｜记者 文艺 朱绍杰
视频出镜|｜罗奇 周欣怡 潘迁