Part of the prestigious academic book series Documenting the Image, this is a fascinating survey illustrated by extremely rare photographs of the burned architectural and landscape complex known as the Rape of the Summer Palace.
In 1860, Western armies brought ruin to the treasured seat of the Qing emperors near Beijing. One hundred and fifty images have been collected to date as a support for an extensive study of the building of the palaces and their subsequent destruction.
This book is a rigourous analysis of the work and experiences of the European photographers, both amateur and professional, working in Beijing during this period, and, as such, becomes an account of the development of photography itself. Offering a fascinating glimpse into 19th-Century China, the book gives an historical overview of the political situation.
'Fascinating….Apart from having accomplished the important task of assembling and analyzing these photographs, Thiriez has a fine eye for the telling detail….This book will be of great interest to virtually all those interested in nineteenth-century China, and in the colonial angle from which these photographs tell so many different stories, as well as those concerned with the history of photography itself.' - Joanna Waly-Cohen, New York University of Arts
'All historians of China now have a major debt to pay to Dr. Thiriez for her masterful study of the world of photography in nineteenth-century China. The book itself is especially fun for anyone who has ever done historical research. In fact, 'the historian as detective' is a major feature of the book, a subject all research historians understand and that few actually reveal in the writings … Clearly this is a work which has many dimensions and one which a very large number of historians are likely to profit from. I recommend the book highly.' - Steven A. Leibo, Asia Book Review
'Regine Thiriez's level of scholarship is unmatched in this field … An innovative and worthwhile book that will make significant advances in the study of late imperial China and the encounter between China and the rest of the world.' - John Finlay, Curator of Asian Art, Brooklyn Museum, New York