27 albumen prints, showing 18 views and one double portrait, on 19 individual mounts (378 x 430mm.), comprising: 15 individual prints (from 201 x 166mm. to 245 x 295mm., or the reverse), three 2-plate panoramas (from 223 x 273mm. to 235 x 596mm.), and one 6-plate panorama of Peking (217 x 1733mm.), together with a leaf signed and dated by the original owner ("E.H. Courtney / Lt. R.E. / China. 1860"), each photograph captioned by Courtney in ink on the mount, the photographs preserved in archival sleeves within a modern black cloth box
This set of photographs was produced in Peking (Beijing) by Beato and purchased from him by Lieut. E.H. Courtney of the Royal Engineers, who took part in the capture of the Taku forts and the advance on Peking, and whose annotations appear on the mount of each photograph.
The photographs show views of Pehtang (2), North "Taku" Fort (4, including a panorama), Tung Chow Pagoda, a 6-part panorama of Peking from the South Gate, the Imperial Winter Palace (2, including a panorama), the Temple of Heaven, the Imperial Summer Palace (4, including a panorama), Tombs near Peking (2), the entrance to the Lama Temple near Peking, and a double-portrait of Major General Sir Robert Napier and Major Greathead.
Beato's photographs form a visual narrative of the campaign in China, beginning with the captured Taku forts and culminating in views in and around Peking, including images of the Imperial Summer Palace before and after the conflagration and a magnificent 6-plate panorama of Peking from the South Gate.
"Beato carefully cultivated his contacts among the British officers, who made up one of his principal markets. After each photo shoot, he would make prints from his new negatives and show them around, successfully negotiating a number of sales. Before the allied forces left Peking in early November, Beato again actively sought customers among the troops." (Lacoste, p.10)
When Beato arrived back in London in the second half of 1861 he was keen to make commercial gain from his photographs taken in India and China. Henry Hering, a commercial photographer and publisher purchased a large quantity of photographs from Beato and offered copies for sale by subscription. It is important to note that the photographs that Hering offered for sale however differ from Beato's original prints: "Evidence indicates that Hering's prints were made from a copy negative, with the slightly different framing and loss of detail that often occur during this process. Some were retouched, such as the photograph of the Lama Temple, in which parts of the trees in the background were cleaned up. All prints were numbered in the negative and sold with a printed caption pasted on the mount. The images were printed on thin paper and were much darker with greater contrasts, as Hering added gold and platinum toning." (Lacoste, p.12)
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