China trade of Chinese Aison Gioro Keying
China trade oil on canvas portrait of Chinese statesman Aison Gioro Keying, ca. 1840, inscribed on frameKeying the Great Chinese Commissioner___the___. Keying was a highly influential figure in mid 19th c. China, negotiating the treaty with Britain after the first opium war and later treaties with the United States, Sweden-Norway, and France which collectively became known as the"Unequal Treaties". He later attempted to negotiate an end to the second opium war but left the negotiations after being humiliated by the British. He was sentenced to death by the Chinese government but allowed to commit suicide instead in 1858. While the connection between Tibbits and Keying is not known a few clues let us speculate why this early ship captain chose to commission the portrait. On June 16th 1844 a band of angry Chinese entered the American garden and attacked the Americans with clubs. During the incident an American shot and killed a Chinese man. Commissioner Keying got involved but Caleb Cushing, an American diplomat, insisted that the shooter be tried by a jury of his peers, which on July 3rd declared the incident a"justifiable act of self-defense". Keying and Cushing soon settled on the terms of the Treaty of Wangxia which included the provision that US citizens could only be tried by US consular officers. While there is no mention of Tibbits in Cushing's account a reference would come five years later when Lieutenant U.S. Navy E.G.Tilton was called as a character witness after a mutiny aboard the ship Pacific captained by Tibbits. Tilton states"In the year 1844 Tibbits made his way through a dangerous mob which threatened the lives of our countrymen in Canton, and the destruction of the factories...On this occasion he evinced great solicitude for the preservation of the lives of our countrymen, regardless apparently of his own, and rendered an important service to them and me". While we can only imagine the"service" that was rendered it is possible that
Original frame. Relined. Very small minor paint splashes. Edges trimmed. 3" repair to bottom right. Very small touch-ups to face and shirt. Small surface abrasions to head. Thin wash added to background to lessen the appearance of craquelure. Craquelure does not appear heavy and wash should be removed. Provenance: The Collection of Captain Hall Jackson Tibbits (1797-1872), Long Island, NY.
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