Pair of very rare European-subject wallpaper panels painted with European figures and buildings, one sporting a Union Jack, in a Chinese setting.
An example, from Strathallan Castle, with a Hong scene, is in the Peabody Museum
The significance of the subject matter is not easy to elicit. Clearly it deals with Europeans and, perhaps uniquely with the exception of ship and Hong scenes, contains a Union Jack. Wallpaper with European subjects is very rare. Clearly the drawing and painting are naive but the technique used to paint the bushes and trees is well known in Chinese wallpaper of the same period. One panel shows a church with what clearly seems to be a risqué scene with a man and a woman, both Europeans dressed in European style. Their features, however, have a touch of the oriental, specially in the eyes. The second panel shows a building with the 'Union Jack' on top of it, outside which there are various figures. They wear clothes difficult to identify. They are possibly either members of a religious order or civic officials. Although Europeans had a significant presence in the Far East (albeit not in numbers), representations of them are almost entirely limited to scenes that illustrate either situations of trade or copies from European prints. In contrast, these panels appear to represent scenes from local life. They could easily be of a place of posting where some Europeans settled for a period. Someone might well have ordered the wall paper, possibly to bring back to Europe. One assumes the wall paper ordered would have included a larger number of panels but those were either lost or somehow separated from these two.