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Photograph album of Canton, 1870s

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Title: Photograph album of Canton
Dates: 1870s
Number: 2010.R.3
Extent: 1.5 linear feet (28 photographs in 1 album)
Abstract: The disbound album of 28 albumen photographs of Canton (Guangzhou), China and surrounding areas comprises a mix of Chinese scenes (temples, gardens, tea houses, rice fields) and images related specifically to the European community in Canton and its activities.
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Language: Collection material is in English with some French.
Repository: The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Author: Beth Ann Guynn

Biographical / Historical

The compiler of the album is unknown. was likely a European residing in Canton during the 1870s.

Scope and Content of Collection

The disbound album of 28 photographs of Canton (Guangzhou) and surrounding areas compiled by an unidentified person in the 1870s. Based on the content of the album the compiler was likely a European residing in Canton at that time. The photographs comprise a mixture of Chinese scenes (temples, gardens, tea houses, rice fields), and images related specifically to the European community in Canton (Fort Macao; the European Concession on Shamian; the English church). Photographs recording the European community include three images taken at the Canton race course, two of which show the community gathered en masse; two group photographs taken on picnics in the Canton area; and a scene from an amateur theatrical production. One photograph reproduces a portrait painting or print of a young Chinese woman.

Two photographs are identified as being by Lai Fong and it is likely that he or his studio took a number of the images, as his studio frequently documented the events and outings of the denizens of the Western settlements in the treaty ports.

The album has blue paper covers. Captions are written on the mounts below the images in two different hands. Twenty-four English captions are written in pencil and four French captions are in ink. Two captions bear the date 1873. The image titles are taken from the captions.


Arranged in a single series:
Series I. Photograph album of Canton, 1870s.



Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Contact Library Reproductions and Permissions.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Lai, Fong, approximately 1839-1890

Subjects - Topics

Europeans -- China

Subjects - Places

Guangzhou (China) -- Description and travel
Shamian (China) -- Description and travel

Genres and Forms of Material

Albumen prints -- China -- 19th century
Group portraits -- China -- 19th century
Photograph albums -- China -- 19th century
Photographs, Original.

Related Material

Digitized Material

The collection was digitized circa 2010 and the images are available online:

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Photograph album of Canton, 1870s, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2010.R.3.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired in 2010.

Processing Information

The finding aid was written by Beth Ann Guynn in 2020.

Container List

Series I. Photograph album of Canton, 1870s
Photograph album of Canton, 1870s (digitized version)

In original order.
box page
1 1 recto 2010.R.3-1r English "Yamoon," Residence of the British Consul in Canton, 1874 or 1878
The image shows a wide staircase likely located in the forecourt or garden of the building. The Flower Pagoda is present in the background. Another copy of this image appears in the G. Prat Photograph Album of China and Japan (accession no. 98.R.14) with the handwritten caption: La pagode des Fleurs en 1878, avant sa réparation.
1 2 recto 2010.R.3-2r Theatrical Society in "Aladin," 1870s
The photograph depicts five European men in Chinese costume ranged "on stage" before a painted Chinese screen set on the veranda of a building.
1 3 recto 2010.R.3-3r Chinese Temple, 1870s
1 4 recto 2010.R.3-4r Chinese School (English Teacher), 1870s
This photograph is a group portrait of a class of Chinese male students and their teacher.
1 5 recto 2010.R.3-5r Chinese Tea Hongs, 1870s
1 6 recto 2010.R.3-6r Chinese Garden, 1870s
The photograph depicts four Chinese men ranged on the steps and first story of a two-story loggia.
1 7 recto 2010.R.3-7r Le fort "Macao" près de Canton, 1870s
1 8 recto 2010.R.3-8r "Shameen" concession européenne, vue prise de la rivière, 1870s
In 1859, the foreign community in Guangzhou was moved from the banks of the Pearl River to Shamian, an island built on a former sandbar that was separated from the mainland by the creation of an artificial canal or river (now called Shajichong) and built up to encompass twenty-seven hectares. Britain leased three-fifths of the island from China, using it for their concession or settlement, while France leased the remaining land for theirs.
1 9 recto 2010.R.3-9r "Shameen" concession européenne, 1870s
1 10 recto 2010.R.3-10r "Shameen" concession européenne, bateaux chinois, 1870s
This photograph was taken from the opposing shore of the Pearl River and shows Chinese boats in the foreground and the official buildings of the European settlement across the river.
1 11 recto 2010.R.3-11r Chinese Junks and Sampans, 1870s
1 12 recto 2010.R.3-12r Simpson Co's. House in Canton, 1870s
Several European and Chinese men are ranged on the steps and porch of the house and women appear in the upper windows.
1 13 recto 2010.R.3-13r English Church (Shameen), 1870s
View of the Shamian Christian Church built in 1865 for British Anglicans.
1 14 recto 2010.R.3-14r Lai Fong, Lee-Ming-Coon Garden, Canton, 1870s
Title from the printed caption on the mount of another copy of this image contained in the Lai Fong album in the Clark Worswick Collection of Photographs of China and Southeast Asia (accession no. 2003.R.22, box 7). For another copy of this photograph bearing the same printed caption as well as a printed legend, see Images Related to Shanghai and Other Chinese Cities (accession no. 2007.R.15).
Caption written on mount: Chinese Tea Garden "Lee min Koon" near Canton.
1 15 recto 2010.R.3-15r Tea House and Rice Field, 1870s
1 16 recto 2010.R.3-16r Eating House, 1870s
1 17 recto 2010.R.3-17r Chinese Houses, 1870s
1 18 recto 2010.R.3-18r Rice Fields, 1870s
1 19 recto 2010.R.3-19r Chinese Hongs, 1870s
Taken from across a field of tea plants, the view shows Chinese workers and children posing along a low mound in front of the walls of a large compound.
1 20 recto 2010.R.3-20r Chinese Pagoda, 1870s
1 21 recto 2010.R.3-21r Entrance to a Chinese Temple, 1870s
1 22 recto 2010.R.3-22r Pic Nic Party (near Canton), 1870s
The group portrait includes 11 European men and one woman posed on the base of a paifang or memorial archway.
1 23 recto 2010.R.3-23r Race Pic Nic, Canton (Lee min Koon), 1873 December
The photograph shows a large group of Europeans, primarily males, with a few women interspersed, outside one of the buildings of the Lee-Ming-Koon garden. The garden was near the Canton race track.
1 24 recto 2010.R.3-24r Lai Fong, Race Meeting, December, 1873, Canton, 1873
The photograph depicts a large group of European men, along with a few European women and Chinese men, posed in and in front of the viewing stand. Signed in the negative: Afong.
1 25 recto 2010.R.3-25r Race Course (Canton), 1873?
The view looking across the race course to the main pavilion shows the large crowds gathered for the races.
1 26 recto-1 2010.R.3-26r.1 Country near Canton, 1870s
1 26 recto-2 2010.R.3-26r.2 Chinese Girl, 1870s
Photographic reproduction of a painting or print.
1 27 recto 2010.R.3-27r Waterfall about 100 Miles from Canton, 1870s