Following the success of last year, Shapero Rare Books
are returning to Fine Art Asia fair, which takes place on 3 - 7 October in Hong Kong. This year Shapero Rare Books intend to show through their display how Europe and China interacted and introduced each other to their culture and traditions.
Even though there existed early accounts and maps of China, the European perception about this country remained to a great extent fragmented until the publication of Novus Atlas Sinensis a Martino Martinio [Blaeu, Amsterdam, 1655] the first European atlas of China. This pinnacle of seventeenth century Jesuit cartography was the work of Martino Martini (16141661), the Jesuit superior in Hangzhou, who entered China in 1643 and for three years travelled widely throughout the country, collecting material. The BlaeuMartini atlas provided a degree of knowledge in the European vision of China that developed progressively over the next 80 years. Shapero Rare Books will exhibit on their stand a rare hand-coloured example of this atlas in a contemporary vellum binding.
The publication Description géographique, historique, chronologique, politique, et physique de lempire de la Chine by Jean Baptiste du Halde [Paris, 1735], also provided the Europeans with a much greater insight into China and the Chinese. Du Halde, a Parisian Jesuit, collected and edited the letters, published and unpublished, of twenty seven Jesuit missionaries including particularly Martino Martinis Sinicae Historicae (1658) and Lecomtes Nouveaux Memoires (1696). Historically the work is regarded as monumental from a textual point of view because of the vast amount and variety of interesting details on Chinese political institutions, education, language, medicine, science, customs, and artefacts. It is one of the earliest European sources on Chinese ceramics. Shapero Rare Books will display a beautiful example of the first edition of this work, which remains today the Bible of European Sinophilia (Lowendahl).
Other highlights include a fine example of the first edition of An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China by Sir George L. Staunton [London, 1797]. This finely illustrated account records the first British Embassy to China, which eventually led to the foundation of Hong Kong as a British trading post. It was the failure of this mission to establish direct trade links with China that convinced the British government of the need to set up its own trading post. The plates of this work are of special interest due to the depiction of subjects that few Europeans had ever recorded or seen. These illustrations showed the considerable technical, artistic and organisational advancement of the Chinese civilization.
Shapero Rare Books will also present a selection of 19th-century photographs of Hong Kong and Macao, as well as rare antique maps of the area and, unusually, some lovely Chinese oil paintings representing portraits as well as maritime compositions.