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Interior of a Chinese shop

  • Object:

    Fan leaf

  • Place of origin:

    Netherlands (possibly, painted)

  • Date:

    1680-1700 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gouache on paper, mounted onto a wooden panel

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir William Lawrence, Bt

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 7, The Sheikha Amna Bint Mohammed Al Thani Gallery, case CA13

This painting was originally made as a fan leaf which has been later extended to create a small-scale painting. It depicts an imaginary shop dealing in Chinese export goods including a wide range of objects. The distorted perspective and the fantastic mix of goods are reminiscent features of Netherlandish paintings showing collectors’ cabinet in the 17th century.

Physical description

The interior of a shop dealing in Chinese export goods, including ceramics, paintings and furniture, enlarged from a fan leaf, extended and mounted on panel; figures dressed in Persian and Chinese costumes; more shop in the background

Place of Origin

Netherlands (possibly, painted)


1680-1700 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Gouache on paper, mounted onto a wooden panel


Height: 26.3 cm, Width: 43.6 cm, Height: 350 mm gilt frame, Width: 510 mm gilt frame, Depth: 40 mm gilt frame

Object history note

Given by Sir William Lawrence, Bt

Historical context note

This painting was originally the painted leaf of a fan, but was later adapted to become a small framed painting. The leaf was stuck down on a rectangular wooden panel, and the image was extended to the corners. The scene represents the interior of a Chinese shop. The display of a fantastic profusion of luxury goods including lacquers, furniture, Chinese porcelain and redwares, Indian chintzes and Persian paintings as well as small ivory devotional sculptures, suggests that this shop is probably imaginary.

The depiction of female shoppers in a mix of Turkish or Persian costume further supports such interpretation. In addition this range of objects in different media suggests that the shop must be a European fantasy as these objects would not have been sold together in China for example. The accuracy with which the wares themselves are represented however implies that the artist was familiar with these kind of objects.

The peculiar perspective which shows a distortion in the proportions in order to make visible a maximum of objects is reminiscent of Netherlandish paintings depicting collectors cabinets such as the ones developed by Frans Francken II (1581-1642) in the early 17th century. A thesis further supported by the fact that the painting seems to imitate other Dutch fans of the period. It has been therefore proposed that this painting may represent a loose depiction of an importer’s shop in a European centre such as Amsterdam.

Descriptive line

Painting, Fan-leaf interior of a Chinese shop, possibly Dutch School, ca. 1680-1700

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

Export Lacquerware: Reflections of the West in Black and Gold Makie Osaka, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2008, cat. 102, p. 314, fig. 102, p. 138
M. Snodin and N. Llewellyn eds, Baroque 1620 - 1800. Style in the Age of Magnificence London, 2009, cat.42, pl. 1.26
La Soie & le Cannon. France-Chine 1700-1860 Paris, 2010, fig. 2.15
Jackson, Anna & Jaffer, Amin (eds.) Encounters : the meeting of Asia and Europe 1500-1800, London, V&A, 2004
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1926, London: Board of Education, 1927.
Suet May Lam, “Fantasies of the East – ‘Shopping’ in Early Modern Eurasia”, in The Mercantile Effect: Art and Exchange in the Islamicate World during the 17th and 18th Centuries, ed. Sussan Babaie and Melanie Gibson, London: Gingko Library, 2017, p. 14-26

Labels and date

Interior of a Shop Selling Asian Goods
About 1700

This shows the interior of a warehouse or shop in South or East Asia. It is stocked with Chinese ceramics and lacquer furniture, Indian cottons and other Asian luxury goods of the types exported to Europe. Many details in the painting are fanciful, such as the Middle Eastern dress of the women.

Possibly Dutch Republic, now the Netherlands

Bodycolour on paper, mounted on board

Originally painted as a fan leaf

Given by Sir William Lawrence, Bt [09.12.2015]


Panel; Gouache; Paper



Subjects depicted

Ceramics; Furniture


Ceramics; Furniture; Porcelain; Shopping; Vases; Fans


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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