Barbarian Lens: Western Photographers of the Qianlong Emperor's European Palaces
In 1860, combined Western European armies brought ruin to the treasured Summer Palace of the Qing emperors near Beijing. However, other Westerners contributed to the garden's remembrance through their photographs of the only architecture left standing after the fire: the European Palaces built by Jesuits in the 1750s for the great Qianlong emperor. The handful of photographers who documented these ruins between 1860 and 1925 came from many different countries. Some were professionals, the majority were not, yet all contributed to the memories of a world that has come to symbolize the losses China suffered through foreign ambition.
Regine Thiriez studies those photographers who provided such rare views of the European Palaces, revealing how the lives of these men in China, the interaction that took place among them, and the context of foreign presence and photography in Beijing further illuminated their work.
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