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Description

An attractive view, depicting a Chinese port city, from the drawings of the Dutch adventurer Johannes (Jan) Nieuhoff, published as part of A.F. Prévost's Histoire Générale des Voyages (Paris, 1748).

In this classic early European image of China, the town is shown surrounded by medieval brick walls, backed by dramatic limestone mountains. A monumental pagoda tower occupies the foreground, while a junk sails into port.

Johannes Nieuhoff (1618-72) was a Dutch diplomat and adventurer, who was perhaps the most widely traveled individual of the seventeenth-century. His experiences included important expeditions to various locations in Brazil, Africa, India, Indonesia, and China. From 1655-57, Nieuhoff made an epic 2,400 trek through China, from Canton to Beijing.

During his Chinese expedition he made numerous drawings of the sites he encountered, including the port town of Chau Cheu Fu in the southern province of Guandong, which was the basis for the present print. Nieuhoff's important written account, along with engravings of his drawings was first published as Legatio batavica ad magnum Tartariæ chamum Sungteium, modernum Sinæ imperatorem (Amsterdam, 1668). His illustrations proved to be highly influential, as they did much to spawn the genre of chinoiserie in European art and design.

The present view was published as part of Abbé Antoine François Prévost's Histoire Générale des Voyages, a grand showcase of global voyages that ran into 15 volumes, published in Paris from 1746 to 1761. The view Cité de Chau cheu fu appears as the sixth illustration in volume 5 (issued in 1748).