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Canton

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    Canton (photographed)

  • Date:

    April 1860 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Beato, Felice (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from wet collodion on glass negative

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased from Mrs. Doris Hansford, 1975

  • Museum number:

    171-1975

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 400, box A

Having established his reputation as a professional photographer documenting military conflicts in the Crimea and India during the 1850s, Italian-born Felice Beato arrived in China in March 1860 during the final months of the Second Opium War. Accompanying the Anglo-French expeditionary force, which went on to seize Beijing and force the Chinese Empire to accede to sweeping political and economic demands, Beato’s views, combining topographical and military information, provided a visual record of the Imperial campaign. They were often included in ‘progress’ reports sent from Hong Kong to the commanding officer of the British army.

Beato also sold his images of China to British officers as unmounted prints with his stock number, title, and date written in pencil on the verso of each print. By assembling a selection of images, the purchaser could construct a personal visual record. Albums, such as the one from which this view was taken, have differing numbers of prints, and are a reflection of the owner's personal military career. But even before the ‘narrative’ was constructed by the purchaser, Beato himself controlled the story, determining what was considered worthy of recording and eliminating any conflicting viewpoints. These views were absorbed by the public as part of a larger visual memory documenting England’s rise as an Imperial power.

Physical description

A sepia-coloured photograph showing a statue of the philosopher Confucius which had been previously mounted into a bound album of 53 individual pages with dark green half-leather and green marble boards.

Place of Origin

Canton (photographed)

Date

April 1860 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Beato, Felice (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from wet collodion on glass negative

Marks and inscriptions

'No. 72'
Pencil, lower right mount, believed to be Beato's original stock number.

Object history note

This album of photographs was acquired in 1975 from Doris Hansford, the wife of Professor Professor S.(Sidney) Howard Hansford. He was a student in China during the 1930s when he recorded some ‘home movies’ in Beijing. He later became a Professor of Asian art at University of London.

Descriptive line

Photograph by Felice Beato from the album Views in China, 'Canton', albumen print, 1860

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Harris, David. Of Battle and Beauty: Felice Beato's Photographs of China. Santa Barbara, CA: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1999
Crombie, Isobel. "China, 1860: A Photograpic Album by Felice Beato." History of Photography 11, no. 1 (1987): 25-37.

Techniques

Photography

Subjects depicted

Philosophers; Temples

Categories

Photographs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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