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Oil painting - A Chinese Dignitary Riding a Fish (one of eleven panels with Chinoiserie decoration)
  • A Chinese Dignitary Riding a Fish (one of eleven panels with Chinoiserie decoration)
    Robert Robinson
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A Chinese Dignitary Riding a Fish (one of eleven panels with Chinoiserie decoration)

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    London, England (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1696 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Robert Robinson (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    oil and tempera on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Presented by The Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    P.12-1954

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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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.

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.

Place of Origin

London, England (possibly, made)

Date

ca. 1696 (made)

Artist/maker

Robert Robinson (artist)

Materials and Techniques

oil and tempera on panel

Dimensions

Height: 27 in estimate, Width: 31.5 in estimate

Object history note

Given by the National Art Collections Fund, 1954

Historical context note

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.

Descriptive line

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.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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
The full text of the entry is as follows:

"ROBINSON, Robert (died 1706)

Eleven decorative panels painted with Chinoiseries.
Oil on panel. Various sizes P.6-16-1954

Note: These panels were Lot 131 at Christie's, 30 April 1954 (anonymous sale). See 'An English Painter of Chinoiseries' by Edward Croft-Murray, in Country Life Annual, 1955 (pp.174-9), where seven of them are reproduced. The original provenance is not known, but some indication of the identity of the person for whom they were executed may be had from the fact that shields of arms and banners of the families of Nourse of Woodeaton, Oxfordshire, and of Skelton of Cumberland, occur in two of the panels. See also Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England, vol.1, 1962, pp.224-5, No.6."

Materials

Oil paint; Panel; Tempera

Techniques

Painting

Subjects depicted

Fish; Umbrella; Pagoda; Flying fish

Categories

Paintings

Production Type

Unique

Collection code

PDP

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Qr_O64583
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