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William Alexander, 1767–1816, British
City of Lin Tsin, Shantung, with a View of the Grand Canal
Watercolor and graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 11 1/4 × 17 1/2 inches (28.6 × 44.5 cm)

Signed and dated in pen and black ink, lower right: "W Alexander 95"

Inscribed on verso in graphite, center right: "Lin Tsin - Grand Canal"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | buildings | canal | children | Chinese architecture | genre subject | gesture | hats | junks | landscape | men | mountains | pagoda | pavilions | pipe (smoking equipment) | pointing | sampans | ships | smoking | tools | village | walking | women
Associated Places:
Asia | China | Grand Canal | Shandong
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: As a COVID-19 precaution, the Study Room is closed until further notice.
Curatorial Comment:
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On 22 October 1793, Alexander noted in his journal, "At noon we passed the Pagoda of Linsing of 9 stories, about 120 ft. in height. Tis a striking object being detached from any town and stands about 20 yards from the waters edge" (Legouix and Conner, 1981, p. 36). The pagoda at Lin-Ching-Shih stood at the point where the Eu-Ho River intersects with the Grand Canal. Alexander saw and sketched it from the junk in which he traveled up the Eu-Ho and along the entire length of the Grand Canal, from Beijing to Hangchow. Although he had little opportunity for excursions beyond the riverbanks, the month-long voyage provided him with plentiful opportunity to observe waterside life. Alexander made a number of drawings of the Chinese people who gathered to watch the Europeans passing and used these sketches to populate his finished watercolors. This watercolor is one of five versions of the scene that Alexander produced on his return to England and may be the one that was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1796 under the title "Pagoda near Lin-tchin-four" (no. 690). A view of the pagoda, along with several dozen other views by Alexander, was engraved as an illustration to Sir George Staunton's official account of the voyage in 1797.
--Eleanor Hughes,2007-01
Exhibition History:
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English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17)

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05)

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29)

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27)

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William Alexander, William Alexander, An English artist in imperial China , Brighton Borough Council, Brighton, 1981, p. 36, no. 19, NJ18 AL377 C65 (YCBA)

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 279, no. 80, pl. 80, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

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