China 1792 - 95
 Having been taught to read and write basic Cantonese by his prodigious young pupil, George Staunton the younger, at Greenwich, Barrow was an obvious choice to accompany Lord Macartney's embassy to China

This watercolour by William Alexander shows the Embassy looking a bit lost & lonely, on the right. By now all the pomp and ceremonial must have been getting a bit deja-vu. Note the mega-yurts; there are lots of groovy tents in this mural.
Here is the Emperor himself, Quian-long, just after he came to the throne. On the far right, it's him again, in his eighties now but , admirably, still wearing the same frock.
These 3 (above and left) fabulously well-observed studies of real people are also by William Alexander. And this is him, himself:

(I think the semi-transparent eyepatch is a device to help with drawing - if you shut one eye it flattens the scene, making it 2D.)
The other official artist on the trip was one Thomas Hickey, " a decayed portrait painter, who did nothing".

And this, regrettably tiny and now faded, sketch is of the Lord High Panjandrum
Ambassador Earl Macartney himself,
all in pink, with a hatful of ostritch feathers
like a high-class candy-floss stall.

To be fair, here he is again, below, on a better-hair-day, though whether it's his own hair I'm not sure. A tax on wig-powder was
introduced in 1795 whereupon almost everyone stopped wearing them.

And so is this by Alexander, but it's based on a sketch by John Barrow.

And here is a treasure of a picture - The actual Ambassador, Lord Macartney, with all the chaps, presenting some wondrous English trinket to the Emperor. Can you see the ostrich-feathers, sticking up like a fountain of fluff? So that's the answer to the puzzle in the Mural China scene, folks. It's a a hat. John Barrow is number 9, third from the right. The small boy is young George Staunton,
Barrow's pupil from Greenwich days - except he taught Barrow chinese. Another puzzle.
This is Gillray's version of the above - mostly interesting for showing an assortment of toys - including a carriage-and-six on a little wooden trolley, a miniature hot-air balloon, and other marvels of the age. The Emperor's reason for turning away the Embassy was that the Chinese had no need for western toys. In fact there was one whole shipload of carefully packed mechanical trinkets, which had to be re-assembled on arrival, a job which took months. Unfortunately there's no record of what these machines actually were. Just a few years later the British went to war against China for control of the Opium trade. Perhaps there's more to this story than history records.


A Chinese Imperial Horseman of the period, if not the Emperor
himself (guessing - same frock again?) The awkward way he holds the reins suggests overgrown fingernails, as flaunted by Emperors to prove they do no work. See below.
It's interesting to compare this with African horsemen (see that page) , equally magnificent , and to think about how Horsemanship provided a common language across nations and ages.
Emperor Qianlong again, now frockless and relaxing in his study.


Two fascinating Chinese ships, the lower one being "A Pleasure Junk" by Wm Alexander 1793 As is the one below, showing HMS Hindostan in which Barrow and the other "attachés" sailed to China. This ship's entire cargo was the collection of mechanical marvels, or "magnificent array of gifts" aka "toys" which were in Barrow's care, to be presented to the Emperor. The Bigwigs went in another ship, HMS Lion.


This one is actually by John Barrow himself, and shows the port of Hoi An.
It was found by Jean Povey on her travels in South Vietnam. Wow.