A late 18th century Chinese-Export reverse painted mirror of Captain John Cranstoun

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Lot 314
A late 18th century Chinese-Export reverse painted mirror of Captain John Cranstoun
Sold for £ 10,625 (US$ 13,860) inc. premium

Lot Details
A late 18th century Chinese-Export reverse painted mirror of Captain John Cranstoun
Standing beside a red draped open window, looking out onto a river landscape, wearing an embroidered waistcoat and blue frock coat, within a rectangular later frame, 34cm high, 28cm wide (13in high, 13in wide)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Family tradition has it this is a painting of Captain John Cranstoun (1745-1788), known as Jack. Family archives contain some details of and letters from him, with a note from 1872 supporting the claim.

    Jack was the second child and eldest son of the Rev John Cranstoun of Ancrum (1706-1790) and Ann, daughter of the Rev J. Gilchrist. He went to sea as an officer in the Honourable East India Company at the age of about 15 in 1760, in July 1784 he became Captain of the Assia.

    The family letters are sent from Jack mostly to his father. On the 26 December 1771 he sent a letter from London saying that he is about to set sail as first or second mate on the Royal Charlotte from Gravesend to China and that he cannot be back before June 1774. Written on the back of this letter is the following note:

    "John Cranston the author of this and several other letters is the same whose picture or likeness rather painted on mirror by the Chinese is in my possession - he was the favourite and beloved brother of his beautiful and (...) sister Ann or Annie Cranston, who it was said died of a broken heart when she heard of the death of this much loved brother who died at St Helena on his passage home to his native country. Ellen C. Gordon February 1872".

    It seems likely that the mirror painting was painted whilst Cranstoun was in China on this voyage, he would have been around 29 years old at the time.
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