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Extensive view of Macao from Penha Hill

Thomas Boswall Watson15 December 1852

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art

The Scottish physician Dr. Thomas Watson (1815 - 1860) has rendered a poetic touch to this scenic view of the Praya Grande by successfully capturing the ambience of the Mediterranean that so many of his contemporaries would have appreciated. Lining this handsome, curved esplanade are luxurious houses in European style. In the 19th century, the praya represented the best of Macao and was a typical theme of Macao landscape painting. In those days, when foreign merchants were not allowed to stay in Canton beyond the winter trading season, Macao was where they would reside, some with their families which were strictly forbidden entry to Canton or the foreign factories settlement. Over time, Macao became the home base of many large trading houses. All that changed when Hong Kong was ceded to the British, and foreign traders moved to the young and budding colony.

Dr. Watson settled in Macao in 1845. He was a well-known friend and allegedly a pupil of George Chinnery, the most sought after Western professional artist on the China coast. Chinnery left Britain in 1802 at the age of 28 for India, before settling in Macao in 1825. His style had a great influence on the amateur and professional artists in the region, and one of them was Dr. Watson. When Chinnery died, Dr. Watson was at his bedside and helped sort out his remaining papers and pictures.

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Details

  • Title: Extensive view of Macao from Penha Hill
  • Creator: Thomas Boswall Watson
  • Date Created: 15 December 1852
  • Theme: Macao
  • School: China trade pictures
  • Physical Dimensions: w31.5 x h21 cm
  • Location in the artwork: Macao
  • Artist's Biography: Born in Scotland and trained as a doctor in Edinburgh, Thomas Boswall Watson practised at Melrose before moving to Macao in 1845. There he met Chinnery and became his friend and possibly pupil. His art shows Chinnery's influence. As a friend and physician, he attended to Chinnery during his final days. He moved to Hong Kong in 1856 before returning to Scotland in 1859.
  • Artist's Active Period: Mid-19th century
  • Type: Pencil, brown ink and watercolour on paper

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