Some of the earliest photographs of China, including the first photographic views of Beijing (Peking) and Dagu (Taku) will be offered on sale on May 14th at Sotheby’s London auction. Exceptional rare images taken by photographer Felice Beato in 1860, are thought to be among the first-ever photos of China.
Beato’s set of 18 original albumen photographs from 1860, including the only known photograph of the old Imperial Summer Palace before it was destroyed by fire by British troops in 1860 are expected to fetch £200,000 ($310,000) at Sotheby’s Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History sale next month.
This was the first panoramic photograph of the area ever taken, revealing the interior of Beijing and the Forbidden City beyond. This image printed on fine photographic paper, is 5ft 5ins wide and 8ins tall.
Other photos in the collection feature Pehtang, North Taku Fort, tombs near Peking and the Imperial Winter Palace. Beato’s images of the historical buildings and landmarks are among the only ones in existence.
Sotheby’s auction will also include an album of some of the earliest photographs of Taiwan taken by John Thomson (one of the most important photographers working in China in nineteenth century) in 1871. Estimated at £70,000 – £100,000 ($109,000 – 155,000), it also includes rare views of Swatow (now Shantou in Guangdong province) and Amoy (Xiamen).