Auguste Borget: A Painter-Traveller on the South China Coast

30/6 - 9/10/2016     Macao Museum of Art    

The Macao Museum of Art (MAM) under the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macao S.A.R. Government, in collaboration with the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong and Macao and the Alliance Française de Macao, hold the exhibition“Auguste Borget: A Painter-Traveller on the South China Coast”,as part of Le French May 2016. The exhibition features French painter Auguste Borget’s documentary works, made during his travels in the Far East, presenting a glimpse of the folk customs and cultures of Macao and its surrounding areas in the 19th century.

The exhibition showcases over 120 exhibits on loan from nine cultural entities from Macao, Hong Kong, France and the United Kingdom as well as seven private organisations and collectors, including sketches, watercolours, oil paintings, prints and antique books. Over 40 paintings are themed on Macao in the 19th Century, while the rest depict areas like Hong Kong and Guangzhou during the same period. In particular, the oil painting “A-Ma Temple, Macao” which was acquired by the King of France, Louis Philippe I, is also shown in this exhibition.

Born in the French town of Issoudun, the French painter and traveller Auguste Borget (1808 - 1877) was the son of a banker. Having a passion for art since his childhood, Borget studied with Jean-Antoine Gudin in his early years in Paris and where  he made acquaintance with prominent French writer Honoré de Balzac who would have a deep impact on Borget. Although Borget has never been regarded as a great French artist, his talent in both writing and painting were in fact considered very rare in that time in France.

In October 1836, the adventurous Borget embarked on a four-year-long voyage around the world. In 1838, Borget arrived in China, visiting Macao, Hong Kong, and Guangdong and Fujian provinces. During his stay in China, Borget spent over eight months in Macao, the “City in the Name of God”, where he stationed the longest in China; the icon of the city – the A-Ma Temple, was described by Borget as the “best architecture ever seen” and his art series on the temple is the most famous among his various series. Upon his return to France, Borget published the book Sketches of China and the Chinese in Paris in 1842, an illustrated volume with renderings of scenes and landscapes he had captured in China, which helped to enrich the French’ knowledge about the other side of the world. In an age before photography, Borget’s paintings captured the landscapes of the South China coast and his work serves as an important historical record of the folk customs and precious legacy of Sino-Western cultural exchange.

The exhibition “Auguste Borget: A Painter-Traveller on the South China Coast” lasts until 9 October. For enquiries, please call MAM through tel. no. 8791 9814, during office hours. The Macao Museum of Art, located at Av. Xian Xing Hai, is open daily from 10am to 7pm (no admittance after 6:30pm; closed on Mondays). Admission fee is MOP5 and is free on Sundays and public holidays.