William Alexander’s “Costume of China”

William Alexander (1767-1816) moved to London at age 15 and was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. In 1792 he made his first voyage to China as draughtsman to the Embassy to China. In 1805 he published the first edition of “Costume of China” with 48 hand colored plates and in 1814 followed this successful publication with his “Picturesque Representations of the Dress and Manners of the Chinese illustrated in fifty colored Engravings with Descriptions”.

These lovely aquatint colored engravings, from his 1814 publication, provide an accurate representation of various occupations of Chinese society at all levels: including mandarins, dancers, warriors, and tradesmen.