Hong Kong Night 1924
Original woodcut, printed in colours.
Signed in pink chalk and titled in pencil.
Ref: Miles 11
S 335 x 410 mm; I 313 x 387 mm
Original Elizabeth Keith woodcut, printed in colours.
Outstanding impression with exceptionally strong, brilliant colours. A particularly striking proof impression – one of the finest examples, signed in pink chalk.
Elizabeth Keith’s most famous print and the most sought-after of her works.
The thriving island of Hong Kong was for many years the one remaining jewel in the crown of British colonialism in the Far East. Hong Kong was a natural destination for the Scottish born artist Elizabeth Keith as it was the powerful Scottish trading companies which ruled supreme in Hong Kong after the island and adjacent territory had been ceded to British rule following the Opium Wars. Elizabeth Keith’s superb colour woodcut image has captured the very essence of this thriving island. Hong Kong was always as much alive by night as by day and Elizabeth Keith’s image shows it at its most picturesque. In the foreground, Chinese junks mingle with the western steamships moored in Hong Kong harbour. The city of Hong Kong rises above the bay up towards the Peak. A myriad of lights twinkle in the deepening dusk, their light reflected on the rippled waters of the bay. The rising moon has created an aura of cool white light from behind the skyline as the onset of night approaches – Elizabeth Keith gave this subject the alternative title of Hong Kong (Moonlight).
Hong Kong Night is a fascinating depiction of this prosperous city, long before the skyscrapers of glass and steel lined its waterfront – this magnificent woodcut remains one of the great depictions of Hong Kong as it once was.
Hong Kong Night is the culmination of Elizabeth Keith’s most inspired period in the art of ukiyo-e printmaking, dating from her final year in the Far East before her return to England for a period of eight years. The print exists as a daylight scene called Hong Kong Morning in a single known example. The blocks were reprinted through 1936; however, later impressions were signed in red and are not of the quality of this early proof printing. The finest proof examples were signed in pink chalk.
On firm cream Japan paper with margins, as issued. Sheet discoloured verso only, otherwise very good original condition.