These remarkable photographs show some of the principal sights, buildings and monuments of Beijing, busy street scenes, and portraits of its inhabitants, including monks, a school teacher, Tartar women, chess players, musicians, and street vendors. Morache's portraits of local people are of unusual authenticity.
"Neither commercial photography studios nor foreign merchants were able to operate in Beijing until the late 19th-century. Consequently, early surviving commercial images of the capital were the work of visiting professionals such as Felice Beato (1860), William Saunders (1866), John Thomson (1871) and Lai Fong (1879). Other than that, some surviving photographs came from amateur enthusiasts attached to the diplomatic corps at the foreign legations. Perhaps the best-known examples were the Englishmen Dr John Dudgeon (1864-1890s) and Thomas Child (1871-1879). To this exclusive list, we can now add the name of Dr Georges Morache.
As medical officer attached to the French Legation between 1862 and 1866 Morache (1837-1906), a talented and enthusiastic photographer, would have had access to and detailed knowledge of scenes and locations little known to those just passing through the capital. In the same way that visiting professional David Griffith sought the help of Thomas Child when he travelled to Beijing in 1872, we now know that Paul Champion had earlier sought the assistance of his fellow Frenchman, Morache, in 1865. They travelled and worked together, photographing variants of the same scenes. Photography in 1860s Beijing is exceedingly rare. The recently attributed work of Georges Morache is of great importance to the history of Photography in the Chinese capital" (Terry Bennett, 2016).
In 1876 the French periodical Le Tour du Monde, (a bound copy of which is included in this lot) published a series of articles by the diplomat and sinologist Gabriel Devéria (under the pseudonym M.T. Choutze), who had lived at the French Legation in Beijing with Morache in 1865-66. The articles titled "Pékin et le nord de la Chine" were illustrated with woodcuts, including 37 after photographs by John Thomson, and significantly, 58 after photographs by Morache. Although Morache's original photographs are rare, the illustrations after his photographs were among the most widely reproduced images of Beijing in the last quarter of the 19th century.
Whilst in Beijing Morache also studied medicine and astronomy, and published academic articles on the weather, foot-binding among Chinese women, the practice of Chinese medicine, and a report on an outbreak of Typhus. Shortly after his return to France he published a book about Beijing and its inhabitants (Péking et ses habitants, Paris, 1869, 164pp.), covering a wide range of topics including the climate, topography, health and sanitation, the population, diseases and treatments. Morache's distinguished medical career included promotion to the rank of 'Medicin Inspecteur', the publication of numerous articles and books, and being awarded the Legion d'Honneur Chevalier in 1864, and Commandeur in 1895.
Sotheby's is grateful to Terry Bennett, author of three internationally acclaimed books on the History of Photography in China, for providing the catalogue note to this lot.
The photographs comprise (our numbers):
1 Vue générale de la ville chinoise
2 Rue de Pékin (Hatamen street)
3 Murailles de Pékin
4 Porte de “Tsien-Men” princlpale de la Ville Tartare
5 Temple du ciel
6 Entrée du temple de la Lumiere
7 Temple du lumiere Pékin
8 Pavillion de la cloche dans le temple de la Lumiere
9 Rue de Pékin (charrette et rue)
10 Rue du Legation de francaise (porte d’entrée de la Legation)
11 Entrée du Legation de France (cuisinier-restaurant ambulant)
12 (Kiosk dans la Legation francaise)
13 (Cerfs en jardin de la Legation de Francaise)
14 Entrée d’une grande maison chinoise
15 (entrée d’une grande maison)
16 Pagode du ianants
17 Arc du Triomphe a l’entré du pont dit du Jade
18 Pont dans le parc du Palais d’Été
19 Pont de marbre dans les jardins du “Yuen-Min-Yuen” Palais d’Été
20 Pagode de porcelaine dans Palais d’Été
21 Monument du Pei-Ta-Sse 2 part panorama
22 Pagoda aux environs de Pékin
23 Monument éléve á la mémoire au francaise tués en1860
24 Tombe des RR SS Shaal, Verbiest, Ricci, Johannius
25 Maitre d’école
26 Grand Lama - Boudha vivant
27 Bonze chinoise
28 (type de paysan chinois)
29 Vielle dame tartare
30 Jeune femme tartare
31 Jeune fille tartare
32 Groupe de musiciens
33 Joueurs d’echecs
34 Groupe d’aveugle mendicant
35 Groupe de Manau(?) (group of road workers)*
36 Chaise á 8 porteurs reserve aux princes
37 Barbier ambulant
38 Savetier ambulant
39 Marchand de jouets
40 Lépreux mendicant
41(Mendiant)(leaning against wall)
Please call 1-800-555-5555 to order a print catalog for this sale.
Online Registration to Bid is Closed for this Sale. Would you like to watch the live sale?Watch Live Sale