Chinese School, circa 1860-1880. A rare surviving scene depicting the Dutch Folly Fort on the Pearl River and Canton beyond with junks and sampans at anchor and under sail. Watercolour on rice paper. The painting survives in good condition with only a small pencil eraser-size hole near the bottom center.(see enlarged view) Gilt wood frame and moss green linen matting. View size:5 1/2 X 9 1/2 inches. Framed size: 14 3/4 X 11 3/8 inches.
The fort was a recognizable landmark, known to all China Traders on their trips up the river to the port at Canton. A folly fort or just folly is a specific type of fort built in shallow water, near the shore, in the second half of the 19th century. The main characteristic of a folly fort was that it was built on the water, very close to the edge, very small, and exclusively for military defense with no intention of being used as normal living quarters. They were really defense fortifications rather than what were called "forts" at the time, which were on land and much larger.
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