Vision & Reflection: Photographs of 19th century China shown at Tsinghua University Art Museum
Courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection, an exhibition of rare images has opened at the Tsinghua University Art Museum. It showcases moments in the history of the Middle Kingdom. Shen Li has the story.
For this exhibition, the very first photography display at the Tsinghua University Art Museum, a selection of 120 photographs is offering a glimpse into the late Qing Dynasty.
Some of the earliest photographs of the streets of Beijing are shown alongside depictions of the Old Summer Palace and rural monasteries. There are also views of the Great Wall and the Min River, and portraits of various figures in 19th-century China's diverse society, from politicians and generals to merchants, actors and students.
In mid nineteenth century China, photography threatened the careers of the portrait and trade painters in many port cities.
Consequently, Chinese artisans adapted to keep their livelihoods – becoming photographers themselves or taking up jobs as colorists for established photographers.
For visitors, the early photographs present a unique perspective on the country.
The Stephan Loewentheil collection of early photographs of China is the largest in private hands, with some 15,000 works by Chinese and international artists.
'Vision and Reflection' runs at the Tsinghua University Art Museum until March 31st, 2019. SL, CGTN.