Apr 14, 2022 - Sale 2601

Sale 2601 - Lot 2

Estimate: $ 6,000 - $ 9,000
A large album with 24 photographs titled "Vues de la légation de France à Pekin." The title continues "M. Constans Ministre de France arrivé à Pekin avec Madame Constans Septembre 1886 repartis en Septembre 1887 pour le Japon et le Tonkin [Vietnam]." The album begins with images of the French Legation buildings and environs, including the arriving delegation and local visitors, the interior, and the surrounding park. Some street scenes follow. The final images seem to document the continued travels to Cambodia, Aden (Yemen), and Japan. Some photographs may be attributed to Thomas Child (1841-1898), who was active in the city at the time. Albumen prints, the images measuring 8 1/4x10 1/2 inches (21x26.7 cm.), and slightly smaller, two the reverse, mounted recto only to two-toned mounts with a decorative border and captions in ink below each photograph. Thick folio, red leather with raised bands and decorative gilt on the backstrip, lightly worn; marbled endpapers. 1886-87

Additional Details

The Beijing Legation Quarter held all foreign legations between 1861 (established by the Convention of Peking after China's defeat in the Second Opium War of 1856-60) and 1959. The French legation was established in the residence of Prince An, and though the homes used for the legations were opulent (as is seen in this album), the area surrounding this section of the city (and the legations themselves) was apparently in a state of disrepair and poverty.

Thomas Child is best known for his work in China, and operated out of Beijing in the 1870s and 80s. He arrived in China in 1870, and immediately began photographing the architecture of the city, the subjectmatter for which he is best known and celebrated today. There was no other commercial studio in Beijing at the time, and he began to see a demand for his work grow. By the late 1870s, he was published in the periodical The Far East, and continued to sell his prints from his studio in China. He compiled an early record of customs, architecture, and people, creating an important archive of imagery, including the only known photographic record of his architectural subjects. Thomas Child left Beijing in 1889.