The Gold Nugget, Chinese Camp, 1850
Beautiful art arrests the eye, but layer some insight or truth beneath that beauty and it becomes a great work of art. Mian Situ, through the power and grace of his masterful paintings, has created his own genre of western art. Like “The Golden Mountain” or “The Powder Monkeys” before it, this Fine Art Edition Canvas of “The Gold Nugget” is another masterpiece in this collection.
Of some 85,000 men who swarmed to California’s gold fields in 1849, about 23,000 were not U.S. citizens. Mining camps were the most cosmopolitan spots in North America, but they were hardly the most tolerant. Few of the citizen miners relished sharing the gold, even with English-speaking Britons and Australians. The Chinese were held in greatest contempt. They were not allowed to stake claims and were forced to work abandoned claims and tailings for specks of gold that white men considered unworthy of the effort. Although efficient miners with a passion and tolerance for long hours and hard work, on the rare occasion when Chinese miners turned up a promising prospect, they were driven off.
Unwelcome in the other mining camps, Chinese immigrants settled in an area known as “Chinese camp” or “Chinese diggings.” Chinese camp became the metropolis for the local mining district, providing numerous entrepreneurial opportunities for many of the Chinese residents.
Within this painting I have attempted to tell their story. Working downstream from an established claim of white miners, these Chinese miners have found the rare gold nugget. Although excited about their find, they become guarded as an experienced white miner approaches.