Self portrait of Lamqua

Lam Qua1853 - 1854

Hong Kong Museum of Art

Hong Kong Museum of Art

This self-portrait, which the artist painted with the help of a mirror, is a highly accomplished work that shows Lamqua at the height of his career and talent. It demonstrates a masterly manipulation of paint, the use of a dramatic source of light, the well-defined texture of the fur robe and blue satin cuff, and an engaging gaze. This work shows Lamqua's full understanding of the technical and aesthetic qualities of Western art, especially the style of George Chinnery, the most renowned expatriate artist working in South China between 1825 and 1852. It was not surprising that Lamqua became a serious rival to George Chinnery.
This work is the most important piece of evidence regarding the age of Lamqua. It has an English inscription on the back of the picture frame which reads "Lamqua/ Aged 52/ Painted by himself/ Canton 1853" (There is also a Chinese inscription, but the date says "1854" - a discrepancy that awaits further research). It therefore dates Lamqua's year of birth to 1801/1802.

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  • Title: Self portrait of Lamqua
  • Creator: Lamqua
  • Date: 1853 - 1854
  • Theme: Portrait
  • Physical Dimensions: w24.5 x h30.5 cm
  • Artist's Biography: Lamqua was one of the most gifted and successful Chinese export artists in Canton. He gained himself the title of "The prince of Canton limners (painters)". He painted in a style which is strikingly similar to George Chinnery's and he copied many of Chinnery's portraits. In fact he became a great rival by charging less than Chinnery. Born in 1801/1802, his year of death and his real Chinese name remain a mystery, although we know that he was no longer active from around the 1860s. He was the elder brother of Tingqua, another well-known export artist.
  • Type: Oil on canvas


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