vintage, nostalgia and memories


February 7, 2017

Rare Hand-Colored Photos of Shanghai from the 19th Century

Born in Britain in 1832, William Saunders moved to China in the 1850s and opened a photography studio in Shanghai in 1862. One of the first photographers in the city, Saunders focused primarily on portraiture but also photographed street life, local customs, current events, scenic views, and even executions.

His photographs, intended for tourists and Westernes, were often based on compositions of earlier gouaches made for export. He was one of the main commercial photographers in China in the nineteenth-century.

A series of fifty prints—Portfolio of Sketches of Chinese Life and Character—was published in 1871. This portfolio, in addition to his photographic contributions to Illustrated London News and other publications, disseminated information about life in China to Westerners. Saunders died in 1892.

A Young Lady from Canton: Shanghai not only attracted foreign business people but also immigrants from other parts of China. Saunders’ portraits often featured props signifying the trades or social status of their subjects, but in this case a young woman from Guangzhou stands beside a floor vase holding only a parasol. Her unbound feet and headscarf were typical of the women of Canton (modern-day Guangdong province) in the late Qing era. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

Shanghai Woman and Child: This woman and girl are said to be from Keangsoo (Jiangsu) province, north of Shanghai. Their hairstyles are typical of the region, while their bound feet indicate how the practise was spread among a wider range of social classes than is often thought. Parasols, which were considered accoutrements of the nobility in ancient China were in high fashion in late Qing dynasty Shanghai. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

The Hand Carriage: Saunders was fascinated by traditional Chinese technology, much of which he believed predated similar inventions in the West. In this photograph, two men pose on a man-powered vehicle — a wheelbarrow, essentially. The driver stands at the rear. The assertive gazes of the three men suggests an ease in front of the camera that was seemingly rare at the time in China. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

A Canton Woman: The woman in this portrait, though wearing the traditional silk dress of her native Guangzhou, sits in a Western-style chair in profile — a Western photographic compositional portrait format. Although Shanghai had its own walled Chinese city, many residents chose to live in the foreign settlements. Thus began a mixing of cultures that shaped Shanghai’s openness to foreign influence. Saunders clearly took particular interest in this woman’s elaborate hairstyle, fine clothing, and slippered, unbound feet. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

Shanghai Woman: According to Saunders, the woman in this portrait, a resident of Shanghai who is seen wearing a typical spring dress, consented to his request to show her unbandaged bound foot. Her feet feature prominently as she sits in a Western-style chair, fixing the camera with a direct, proud gaze. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China collection

The Brush Seller: This photograph, one of Saunders’ studio portraits of Shanghai tradespeople, depicts a ‘brush seller’ — or, more accurately, a seller of feather dusters. Small merchants like Saunders’ subject here were a fixture of 19th Century Shanghai street life. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

Itinerant Barbers: Barbering flourished under the Qing dynasty. Barbers not only cut hair but also administered herbal medicines. This outdoor portrait shows two barbers, one shaving the top of a man’s head, the other braiding a customer’s hair. Under the Manchus of the Qing Dynasty, the traditional Han topknot was banned in favor of the queue, a style in which the front of the head was shaved and the remaining hair gathered in a long braid. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

Actors: This striking group portrait shows a troupe of Chinese actors in elaborate costume. As Saunders notes, the conventional costumes of Chinese theater recalled much earlier, classical dress made of rich silks and lavished with intricate embroidery. Those playing villains often wore grotesque masks. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

A Civil Mandarin: In this portrait, a man dressed as a Qing Dynasty official looks confidently toward the camera, his left hand steadying a snuff bottle on the table. Rather unusually, he is relaxed and looks to be smiling his portrait is taken. Saunders photographed a comprehensive range of social classes in 19th Century China. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

Ingenious Device: Saunders’ fondness for the ingenuity of Chinese workers is evident in this photograph. It shows how the driver of a wheelbarrow-type taxi could disassemble his rig in order to avoid paying the taxes levied on wheeled vehicles crossing certain bridges. The composition, which foregrounds the vehicle while obscuring the identity of its owner, betrays the anonymity of such workers in Shanghai at the time. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection

A Ningbo Family: This portrait of a mother and her children from Ningbo, on the coast south of Shanghai, shows the typical dress and hairstyles of the region. Both the mother and her young daughter avert their gaze from the camera, while the seated boy directs an inquisitive look at the lens. Image courtesy of the Stephan Loewentheil Historical Photography of China Collection



0 comments:

Post a Comment


FOLLOW US
FacebookTumblrPinterestRSS

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Browse by Decades

Popular Posts

Random Posts