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Early Chinese photography collection sold

Bernard Quaritch Ltd has confirmed the acquisition by the Hong Kong based Moonchu Foundation of the Terry Bennett Collection of Early Chinese Photographynow to be known as The Moonchu Collection of Early Photography of China.  Comprising approximately 10,000 photographs from 1844 to the end of the Qing Dynasty, the Bennett collection has been acquired in its entirety.The selling price has not been disclosed but it is believed to be a significant seven-figure sum. 

The Moonchu Foundation was established in 2007 and is a tax-exempt charity established by, but not beneficially owned by Mr Zhang Songyi and family members Ms Mui Bing How and Mr Chang Tsong Zung.  The Moonchu Foundation has entered into a loan agreement with the Hong Kong Museum of History for a major exhibition from the collection at the end of 2013, with the further aim that this loan should become a permanent gift.

The range and depth of the collection is renowned, unrivalled in documented private or institutional holdings. It includes a daguerreotype (right) from Jules Itier’s visit in 1844, when he made the earliest surviving photographs of China; 70 albums by amateur and internationally acclaimed photographers such as Felice Beato, Milton Miller, John Thomson, and Lai Fong, William Saunders, Pow Kee, Paul Champion and William Floyd; some 325 cabinet and carte-de-visite portraits by Chinese and Western studios; many lantern slides and glass and paper stereoviews; hundreds of larger format portraits and views; rare photography periodicals such as The Far East and the China Magazine; multi-plate panoramas of Peking, Hong Kong, Macau and the treaty ports; awe inspiring scenes of natural landscape by Lai Fong and Tung Hing; and an early mammoth plate view of Hong Kong by C. L. Weed.

These photographs illuminate China’s history during the second half of the nineteenth century and the history of photography in China.

From the introduction of the daguerreotype to the era of the ‘Kodak’, the scope of this collection allows for comparative studies across multiple social, cultural and historical subjects.

Bernard Quaritch established a Photography Department in 2005 with Consultant Specialist, Lindsey Stewart, and a photobook department in 2010. It has published six catalogues and five photography books including the landmark three volume series History of Photography in China by Terry Bennett and Odalisques and Arabesques: Orientalist Photography 1839-1925 by Ken Jacobson.

Contact: Bernard Quaritch Ltd., 40 South Audley Street, London, W1K 2PR. Tel: +44 (0)20 7297 4888. Fax: +44 (0)20 7297 4866.  rarebooks@quaritch.com or www.quaritch.com

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