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The Forbidden City and the Odyssey of Its Treasures: a Photographic Retrospective

Photography stands alone as an art in itself. Not only is it a vehicle carrying information on the “who, what, where, when, and why” of events, but also a reflection of the diversity and vitality of an era. Traditional illustrations and texts fall short of competing with its influence and impact. Photography was introduced into China during the late Qing dynasty (1644-1911) soon after its invention. It came with the arrival of Western photographers in Macao, Hong Kong, and Guangzhou (or Canton), spreading farther inland from Shanghai, timely capturing a modern China caught in the throes of the clashes between old thinking and new trends, and between traditional culture and foreign influences over the course of a century. The images also bear witness to the dribs and drabs in the transition of political powers, the come-and-go of prominent figures, and the transformation of social reality. Continue Reading