Old Sketches – 1880’s

I have just attended a talk at the California Historical Society by Dr. Claudine Chalmers, who is a native of France and was captivated by the tales of Frenchmen in early California and eventually discovered this great French artist with Hungarian descent, Paul Frenzeny.  Frenzeny loved different cultures including the Mexicans, Indians and the Chinese.  Having spent some time in San Francsico, the artist drew 17 illustrations of the Chinese quarter in San Francisco for the famous weekly newspaper Harper’s Weekly.  Images of the Chinese were essentially those told by Harper’s Weekly whose audiences were mainly the White Americans in the East Coast.  These images were just so detailed and realistic, and some actually delightful, that despite all the negativity for the Chinese eventually leading to the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act which put a 10-year moratorium on Chinese immigration, the artist was able to show a fuller picture of the Chinese life during a very historic moment.

Chinese reception in San Francisco, Harper’s Weekly, June 9, 1877
Chines Opium Palace, Harper’s Weekly, April 3, 1880
Theatrical Performance, Harper’s Weekly, May 12, 1887
Holiday in Chinatown, March 20, 1880
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5 thoughts on “Old Sketches – 1880’s

  1. Thank you so much for liking the sketches, Stefania! I was most impressed by the details and beauty of the sketches when I saw the original in the newspaper at the talk. The artist was really talented and presented a nice picture of the Chinese life back then.

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