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Photograph - Temple of Heaven in the distance (south side) Alter of Heaven in the foreground
  • Temple of Heaven in the distance (south side) Alter of Heaven in the foreground
    Beato, Felice
  • Enlarge image

Temple of Heaven in the distance (south side) Alter of Heaven in the foreground

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    China (photographed)

  • Date:

    ca. 24 October 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:


  • 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. Surviving albums such as this one 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 stone carved arches and a temple in the background mounted into a bound album of 53 individual pages with dark green half-leather and green marble boards. There is a gilt red leather label on cover reading VIEWS IN CHINA within a decorative frame. There are marbled endpapers.

Place of Origin

China (photographed)


ca. 24 October 1860 (photographed)


Beato, Felice (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from wet collodion on glass negative

Marks and inscriptions

'No. 37'
Pencil, lower right mount, believed to be Beato's original stock number.


Height: 16 in album, Length: 18 in album, Width: 1.25 in album, Height: 21.4 cm image, Length: 28.4 cm image

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, 'Temple of Heaven in the distance (south side) Alter of Heaven in the foreground', 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.

Subjects depicted





Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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