N.º 32 (2023): Revista de Estudos Anglo-Portugueses

Macau na Geopolítica e na Cultura Visual Vitorianas: : A Guerra do Ópio e a Presença Britânica na China no (Guia do) Panorama Description of a View of Macao (1840), de Robert Burford

Capa do número 32 da REAP

Publicado 18.01.2024


  • opium war,
  • Macau


Until 1842, Macau was the only gateway for Westerners to China, as well as their home and a privileged space for Sino-Western  cultural exchanges. From the 19th century onwards, the enclave was represented by several English-speaking painters and  photographers, notably in the rotunda of Leicester Square Panorama. Between 1840- 1841, a land/riverscape of the Macau peninsula was displayed in London at the height of the Opium War, a conflict that would force China to give the British a Macao of their own. The timing of the exhibition in London, the British imperial metropolis, is not innocent. The panorama and its guide influence the visitor’s virtual ‘journey’ and inscribe the British presence in China in the history of Macau through the images of European warships in the Pearl River Delta and of British characters and spaces in the city administrated by the Portuguese. The present article analyses the historical context of this ideological and colonial travel performance aimed at the domestic (London) public while interpreting the panorama and the guide as strategic visual and written information about the Portuguese colony in China that had been coveted by the British and remained neutral during the Opium War.