A Chinese Dignitary Riding a Fish (one of eleven panels with Chinoiserie decoration) thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

A Chinese Dignitary Riding a Fish (one of eleven panels with Chinoiserie decoration)

Oil Painting
ca. 1696 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Object Type
This is one of a set of 11 Chinoiserie panels (Museum nos. P.6 to 16-1954) that was acquired by the Museum in 1954. It is not known which house they were originally intended for, but they relate closely to a set of similar panels painted in 1696 for a house in Botolph Lane, London.

People
Very little is known about the painter and printmaker Robert Robinson and not much of his work survives, apart from the two sets of panels. The panels' dramatic quality may be attributable to Robinson's work as a scene painter for the theatre.

Subjects Depicted
Throughout the 17th century goods from East Asia were highly fashionable. However, these painted panels are one of the earliest manifestations of Chinoiserie. The term denotes purely decorative fantasies produced by European artists and based roughly on East Asian themes, as opposed to imitation of true Chinese forms in such techniques as lacquer work. In these panels all manner of whimsical grotesques are mingled with reminiscences of Chinese, Tartar, and Indian themes.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
oil and tempera on panel
Brief Description
Oil painted panel with Chinoiserie decoration, [one of a set of 11] showing a fantastic scene of a Chinese dignitary riding on a fish, under an umbrella, with a pagoda in the background, by Robert Robinson, about 1696.
Physical Description
Oil painted wooden panel with Chinoiserie decoration, showing a fantastic scene of a Chinese dignitary riding on a fish, under an umbrella, with flying fish and a pagoda in the background.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 27in
  • Estimate width: 31.5in
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Style
Production typeUnique
Credit line
Presented by Art Fund
Object history
Given by the National Art Collections Fund, 1954
Historical context
It is not known which house this set of panels was originally intended for, but they relate closely to a set of similar panels, which were painted in 1696 for a house at 5 Botolph Lane, in the City of London and removed to Sir John Cass's Foundation Primary School, Aldgate, London, in 1906. Very little is known about the painter Robert Robinson and not much of his work survives, apart from these two sets of panels. Robinson's work anticipates the mania for Chinoiserie in England by 30 years or more. The Botolph Lane panels are a mixture of Chinese and Peruvian scenes, whereas the set now in the Museum is mainly Chinese in inspiration. Throughout the 17th century goods from the Far East were highly fashionable. However, these painted panels are one of the earliest manifestations of chinoiserie, i.e. purely decorative fantasies by European artists, based roughly upon Far Eastern themes, as opposed to imitation of true Chinese forms such as lacquer work. In the V&A panels all kinds of whimsical grotesques are mingled with reminiscences of Chinese, Tartar, and Indian themes.
Subjects depicted
Summary
Object Type
This is one of a set of 11 Chinoiserie panels (Museum nos. P.6 to 16-1954) that was acquired by the Museum in 1954. It is not known which house they were originally intended for, but they relate closely to a set of similar panels painted in 1696 for a house in Botolph Lane, London.

People
Very little is known about the painter and printmaker Robert Robinson and not much of his work survives, apart from the two sets of panels. The panels' dramatic quality may be attributable to Robinson's work as a scene painter for the theatre.

Subjects Depicted
Throughout the 17th century goods from East Asia were highly fashionable. However, these painted panels are one of the earliest manifestations of Chinoiserie. The term denotes purely decorative fantasies produced by European artists and based roughly on East Asian themes, as opposed to imitation of true Chinese forms in such techniques as lacquer work. In these panels all manner of whimsical grotesques are mingled with reminiscences of Chinese, Tartar, and Indian themes.
Bibliographic References
  • E. Croft-Murray: Decorative Painting in England, 1537-1837, i (London, 1962), pp. 46-7 E. Croft-Murray: An English Painter of Chinoiseries (Country Life Annual, 1955) pp174-179
  • Victoria and Albert Museum Department of Prints and Drawings and Department of Paintings Accessions 1954 London: HMSO, 1963
Collection
Accession Number
P.12-1954

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record createdApril 5, 2002
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