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General view of the Bund (painting) - 1849-1850
Title : General view of the Bund (painting) - 1849-1850
Topic : Virtual Shanghai
Location : Shanghai: International Settlement
Date (start) : 1849
Estimated dates : 1849-1850
Nature : Painting
Support image : Paper
Information data : The first painting we have of the Shanghai Bund, from 1849-1850, sets the precedent for much of the representational work that would follow it over the subsequent decades. The artist's position on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River, as with this work, became a standard position from which to view the buildings and activities on the Bund. This particular painting addresses both the Bund proper as well as linking the banks with the ostensible subject of the work, a regatta. In the foreground, three two-man boats are tied neck and neck as they proceed up the river. A diverse flotilla of small vessels, four small sailboats and a dozen or so rowboats, watch the proceedings.
The two buildings with sloped roofs that are visible on the right-hand side of the painting are the British consulate and the trading firm of Jardine, Matheson and Co. These two enduring features of the Bund are important landmarks for tracking the changing architectural features of Shanghai's waterfront. The building with a wrap-around porch forming part of the consulate compound is visible at the extreme right of the painting. Situated at the confluence of the Huangpu River and Suzhou Creek, the consulate was to retain this position as the northern anchor of the Bund for the duration of Shanghai's existence as an international treaty port. At the southwest corner of the intersection of Consulate Road (later to be renamed Peking Road) and the waterfront, stands the first Jardine, Matheson & Co. building. This firm, like the British consulate, was to retain its same location for over a century, albeit in different buildings and became one of the premier hongs’ trading houses - in the Shanghai market.
Neighboring the Jardine property to the south are the small structures belonging to David Sassoon and the Pacific and Orient (P & O) Company. The larger square edifice on the northwest corner of Park Lane (later renamed Nanking Road) and the compound of buildings on the southwest corner in front of which stand pedestrians watching the regatta belonged to Augustine Heard & Co. and Gibb Livingstone & Co. respectively. The Oriental Bank, neighboring the property of Livingstone, stands at the center of the painting. Its two-story structure with a full front porch and hipped roof are typical of early Shanghai architecture and the building's commercial function reflects the mercantile atmosphere of the city during this period. On the southern end of the block the Shaw Brother's building can be seen on the corner of Rope Walk Road (later Kiukiang Road).
The Dent and Co. compound, which in addition to commercial interests served as the Portuguese consulate, occupied the entire block between Rope Walk Road and Custom House Road (later Hankow Road). Further south, the distinctive shape of the first Customs House is readily apparent as the only indigenous architectural structure in the painting. With the tile roof and curved eaves of traditional Chinese construction, the Customs House anchors the left side of the painting. Furthermore, it appears as if there is a troop of uniformed soldiers gathered outside what is the only strictly governmental building with the exception of the British consulate - on the waterfront. Sharing the block with the Custom's House, the firm of Turner & Co. serves as the southernmost reach of this particular work.
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Keywords : Bund;building;river;ship;boat;painting