[CHINA - BEIJING] [Album of Seventy-Five Original Gelatin Silver Photographs of Beijing and Environs Taken by a German Officer during the First Years of the Republic of China]
Ca. 1912-1914. 27x35,5 cm. 24 stiff card leaves. With 75 mounted original gelatin silver photographs, including 19 large photos ca. 16,5x22,5 cm, four panoramas ca. 8x22 cm or slightly smaller, the rest are from ca. 12x16 cm to ca. 9x14 cm. The majority of photos with manuscript ink captions in German on the mounts, first three photos with additional later pencil captions in Russian. Period brown quarter sheep album with decorative Chinese silk boards, later rebacked in faux leather; decorative endpapers, all edges gilt. Binding slightly rubbed on extremities, corners slightly bumped, several images with different degrees of silvering, but overall a very good album with interesting strong images.
Important collection of high quality original photos of mostly Beijing and environs, taken by a German officer right after the Xinhai Revolution and showing the first years of the young Republic of China. Very interesting are two photos taken during the revolution events in Beijing: a panorama showing a “Fire in Peking on 29 February 1912” as a result of the Peking Mutiny which happened the same day, and a photo of German guards standing on watch next to their cannons in the Western diplomatic quarter in Beijing (the American flag is waving above the US embassy in the background).
There are also over a dozen photos of German military officers and soldiers, including two large images of an artillery unit; several photos from a German military camp in Huangtsun ten miles south of Beijing (group portrait of officers and soldiers with a waving German flag, artillery observation point, a detachment with machine guns, soldiers bringing a howitser in position); a view of the “German officers’ casino”; two group portraits of German commanding officers taken on January 27th 1913 and 1914 – the birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm II (the earlier photo has the names of the officers captioned in pencil underneath), and four pictures from the military review during the visit of Elmershaus von Haxthausen (1858-1914), German minister to China in 1911-14 (two photos also have pencil captions identifying the depicted officials).
The photos of Beijing include several views of the Forbidden City (a procession with a palanquin leaving the Tiananmen Gate, general public at the Meridian Gate, general views, and others), Yellow Temple, the Temple of Heaven, Hatamonn Gate (Chongwenmen) and a view from the Hatamonn bridge (showing a part of the European diplomatic quarter and a sports field), “Deutsches Tor”, Hall of Classics (Beijing Guozijian), five photos of the Beijing Ancient Observatory (with close-up views of the astronomical instruments), Coal Hill in the modern-day Jingshan Park just north of the Forbidden City, the Temple of Earth, a series of six images of the Summer Palace and nearby Kunming Lake, the Grand Canal in the Tongzhou district, Marco Polo (Lugou) Bridge (southwestern Beijing). There are also two photos of the Ketteler Gate and Cross in Beijing: both were erected after German ambassador in China Clemens von Ketteler had been killed during the Boxer Rebellion. The Gate was erected in 1903 on the site of his murder in the Dongdan neighbourhood and was relocated and renamed in 1918.
A dozen images depict the “Taji-tai-tze” temple and mountain (Guoquing Temple on Mount Tiantai?), with general views taken from above, photos of the priests’ graves, “the tree of life,” the entrance gate, the interior of the inner temple et al. Other photos include two views of the “Nankau Pass” (Juyong Pass) over the Great Wall of China, with one image showing a group of German officers standing on the Wall; three views of the Ming Tombs (the stone archway, the entrance to the Sacred Road, and German soldiers posing in front of the Changling Tomb), and others. The album closes with a portrait of a young German officer mounted on a horse, apparently, the album’s compiler. Overall an historically important well-preserved photo collection illustrating German involvement during the first years of the Republic of China.