Among the Celestials, China in Early Photographs
FERRY BERTHOLET & LAMBERT VAN DER AALSVOORT
MERCATORFONDS, Brussels, 2014
ÉDITIONS DE LA MARTINIÈRE, PARIS, 2014
FRÖHLICH & KAUFMANN VERLAG, Berlin, 2014
English, French, and German editions.
Among the Celestials brings to life an intriguing period in Chinese history, through over 150 images of sublime beauty, many of which are reproduced here for the first time. The photographs evoke daily life in the Celestial Empire during the 19th century , when the Dragon Throne struggled to hold its ground. Its countless subjects, while clinging to ancient traditions, considered Westerners as barbarians, disturbing their Eternal Piece. The often daring efforts of Western and, later, also Chinese photographers offer us rare glimpses into a way of life that has long since disappeared.
Stunning portraits of both rich and poor, tantalising scenes of daily life and serene landscapes are presented here within a unique, comprehensive perspective, allowing each of the images to speak for itself. They reveal a stagnant, slumbering society that is slowly waking up to the needs of change and development. In the second part of this impressive volume a selection of striking photographs evokes the Republican period, when Chinese society begins to face these challenges.