Shades of China

SEPTEMBER 15th - NOVEMBER 5th, 2011

Opening reception:
September 15th 6-8pm
Watch Video

Book available:
SHEYING, Shades of China, 1850-1900: $50.00
Throckmorton Fine Art is pleased to offer an exhibit of rare, nineteenth-century photography from China. Photography was first introduced to the Chinese by a wave of foreign—mostly European—photographers who settled on the Chinese coast in the early 1860s. They—and their first Chinese successors—have left a limited yet extraordinary visual record of China on the eve of the tumultuous twentieth-century.

The Forty photographs to be exhibited are part of a collection of seventy-nine works collected over several decades by Spencer Throckmorton. The images are all albumen prints; most measure six by nine inches. The photographs have recently returned from Spain, where they were exhibited to acclaim. A handsome book, in English, and edited by Clark Worswick, accompanied the exhibition of the photographs also entitled, Sheying: Shades of China 1850-1900. The exhibit includes photographs by the pre-eminent European photographers of China: John Thomson, Milton Miller, and Antonio Beato.

The exhibit also includes the work of some of the first Chinese photographers, including Hing Tung, Afong Lai, Pun Lun, and Sze Yuen Ming. The images are in the pictoralist style, but the subject matter varies, embracing everything from prisoners in cangues to opium smokers to actors in elaborate costumes, as well as landscapes and portraits of dignitaries. There are striking images of the Hong Kong Harbor, and a photograph of the Temple of Heaven before the fire of 1889 and a second photograph of the Temple after it had been rebuilt. As Worswick has observed, it is remarkable how at the time as few as ten artists worked to give us today a vision of a country that held—and continues to hold—a quarter of the world’s population. The exhibit of these rare photographs is not to be missed.