This rare, large panoramic painting is one of the earliest depictions of foreign factories in Canton to date. As a hongs painting, it marks the starting point of the Canton Trade system (1757-1842) which was open to foreign ships and international trade. Made specifically for the European market, this painting shows a Western naturalistic landscape style but was painted and mounted in the traditional Chinese hand-scroll format in a Canton studio.
In 1757, Emperor Qianlong ordered the closure of all trading ports in China except Canton, where business premises were rented to Western trading nations and clustered along the northern bank of the Pearl River. From right to left, you can see the Dutch, the English, Hog Lane, the Swedish, the French, Old China Street, the Danish and the Chinese community respectively.