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'Can-ton' exhibit extends to portraits at the Peale


...TC Hung Liu's presence in Baltimore brings us more than her own exhibit, "Can-ton: The Baltimore Series." Because of her work here, three portraits by the great early American painter Charles Willson Peale, all associated with the city but never before shown publicly in Baltimore, are on view as part of an exhibit at the Peale Museum.

They are portraits of the family of Capt. John O'Donnell, who initiated Baltimore's trade with China in 1785 and gave the name Canton to the part of East Baltimore that has borne it ever since.

In 1787, Peale painted portraits of O'Donnell's wife, Marylander Sarah Chew Elliott O'Donnell, and her mother, Mary Chew Elliott. Four years later, he painted the O'Donnells' first surviving daughter, Mary O'Donnell. In the portrait of Mrs. O'Donnell, she holds a miniature portrait believed to be a likeness of her husband, who was on a voyage to India at the time.

In the 1960s, the three portraits were donated to the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Va., by a descendant living there. The Peale, founded by Charles Willson's son Rembrandt Peale in 1814 and now one of the Baltimore City Life Museums, has borrowed all three as the centerpiece of a one-gallery exhibit on the Baltimore-China connection.

It includes other material related to the China trade, such as Chinese export porcelains and ivories, as well as photos and other objects related to the small area known as Baltimore's Chinatown.

The Maryland Historical Society's Radcliffe maritime collection also includes material on Captain O'Donnell and the China trade.


What: "Can-ton: The Baltimore Series at the Peale Museum"

Where: The Peale Museum, 225 N. Holliday St.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays; through Sept. 3

Admission: $2 adults, $1.50 ages 4 through 18 and senior citizens

Call: (410) 396-3523

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