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Barbarian Lens: Western Photographers of the Qianlong Emperor's European Palaces (Documenting the Image Series) [Hardcover]

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Item description for Barbarian Lens: Western Photographers of the Qianlong Emperor's European Palaces (Documenting the Image Series) by Regine Thiriez...

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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Item Specifications...

Studio: Routledge
Pages   192
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 7.5" Height: 10.5"
Weight:   1.5 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 1998
Publisher   Routledge
ISBN  9057005190  
ISBN13  9789057005190  

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Groundbreaking new research on early photography in China.  Mar 17, 1999
Régine Thiriez, an independent scholar who holds a Ph.D. in art history and is currently an associate research fellow in the East Asia Institute in Lyon (France), preparing an inventory of China photography, presents a substantial body of important new research on photography in China from the early years in the mid-19th century to 1860 as well as Qing dynasty China's reception of European technology. Her study, Barbarian Lens: Western Photographer's of the Qianlong Emperor's European Palaces, explores the Western involvement with the ruins of the European-style buildings constructed for the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736-1795) in his summer palace of the Yuanmingyuan, the "old" summer palace outside Beijing. The Yuanmingyuan was sacked and burned in 1860 by a French and British expeditionary force. Only the European part of the garden, constructed of brick and masonry, left substantial ruins. Standing mysteriously on the overgrown grounds of the half-abandoned site, the ruins exerted a powerful pull on European memories of the humiliation of the Emperor of China, and the shameful part played by Western armies in the destruction of the incomparable garden-palace and the treasures kept there. Such are the troubled feelings invoked by photographic images of the ruins. Placing the extant photographs in their historical context, Thiriez makes available to the interested reader and China specialist alike unprecedented primary research on the beginnings of photography in China, the identities and careers of the mostly little-known men who produced photographic images, and the complex relationships between photography and Western penetration of China. Barbarian Lens contains a wealth of scholarly information, presented in clear and succinct detail. Individual chapters focus on the practice of photography in Beijing (beginning in the early 1860s), the tragic encounter of China and Europe in the destruction of the Summer Palace, the amateur and professional photographers of the ruins, as well as the overlapping personal, political, and photographic ambitions of men in the Qing Imperial Maritime Customs, Western diplomatic missions, and other various undertakings. The volume is amply illustrated with more than 50 images-most of them previously unpublished-and includes extensive appendices on such subjects as the pioneering French Mission Palais d'Été studies of the European palaces. Perhaps the most impressive appendix is an exhaustive 24-page list of all the photographs of the European ruins identified by Thiriez to date. It tabulates photographers, photographic collections and sources, cataloguing information on the individual prints surveyed, the most likely date of the photo, additional reprints or rephotography of the same images (a very thorny problem in early photography), and the importance of the photo to the study of the place. It also cross-references the images, showing how they complement each other through the years. The appendices, notes, and bibliography supplement a richly rewarding text and generously make available the result of a decade of painstaking research in an almost unknown and unstudied field. In a volume that presents a complex, fascinating, and sometimes horrifying story of destruction and recovery, Régine Thiriez's contributions to the history of China photography and the fast-growing field of Qing dynasty historical studies are invaluable.

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