Finding aid for Photograph Album of Canton, 1870s

Beth Ann Guynn

Descriptive Summary

Title: Photograph album of Canton
Date (inclusive): 1870s
Number: 2010.R.3
Physical Description: 1.5 linear feet (28 photographs in 1 album)
The Getty Research Institute
Special Collections
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles 90049-1688
(310) 440-7390
Abstract: The disbound album of 28 albumen photographs of Canton (Guangzhou), China and surrounding areas comprises a mix of Chinese scenes (temples, gardens, tea houses, rice fields) and images related specifically to the European community in Canton and its activities.
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Language: Collection material is in English with some French.

Biographical / Historical

The compiler of the album is unknown. was likely a European residing in Canton during the 1870s.

Administrative Information


Open for use by qualified researchers.

Publication Rights

Preferred Citation

Photograph album of Canton, 1870s, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, Accession no. 2010.R.3.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired in 2010.

Processing Information

The finding aid was written by Beth Ann Guynn in 2020.

Digitized Material

The collection was digitized circa 2010 and the images are available online:

Scope and Content of Collection

The disbound album of 28 photographs of Canton (Guangzhou) and surrounding areas compiled by an unidentified person in the 1870s. Based on the content of the album the compiler was likely a European residing in Canton at that time. The photographs comprise a mixture of Chinese scenes (temples, gardens, tea houses, rice fields), and images related specifically to the European community in Canton (Fort Macao; the European Concession on Shamian; the English church). Photographs recording the European community include three images taken at the Canton race course, two of which show the community gathered en masse; two group photographs taken on picnics in the Canton area; and a scene from an amateur theatrical production. One photograph reproduces a portrait painting or print of a young Chinese woman.
Two photographs are identified as being by Lai Fong and it is likely that he or his studio took a number of the images, as his studio frequently documented the events and outings of the denizens of the Western settlements in the treaty ports.
The album has blue paper covers. Captions are written on the mounts below the images in two different hands. Twenty-four English captions are written in pencil and four French captions are in ink. Two captions bear the date 1873. The image titles are taken from the captions.


Arranged in a single series: Series I. Photograph album of Canton, 1870s.

Indexing Terms

Subjects - Names

Lai, Fong, approximately 1839-1890

Subjects - Topics

Europeans -- China

Subjects - Places

Guangzhou (China) -- Description and travel
Shamian (China) -- Description and travel

Genres and Forms of Material

Photograph albums -- China -- 19th century
Albumen prints -- China -- 19th century
Photographs, Original.
Group portraits -- China -- 19th century


Series I. Photograph album of Canton, 1870s

Photograph album of Canton, 1870s (digitized version)


In original order.
box 1, page 1 recto

2010.R.3-1r English "Yamoon," Residence of the British Consul in Canton, 1874 or 1878

Scope and Content Note

The image shows a wide staircase likely located in the forecourt or garden of the building. The Flower Pagoda is present in the background. Another copy of this image appears in the G. Prat Photograph Album of China and Japan (accession no. 98.R.14) with the handwritten caption: La pagode des Fleurs en 1878, avant sa réparation.
box 1, page 2 recto

2010.R.3-2r Theatrical Society in "Aladin," 1870s

Scope and Content Note

The photograph depicts five European men in Chinese costume ranged "on stage" before a painted Chinese screen set on the veranda of a building.
box 1, page 3 recto

2010.R.3-3r Chinese Temple, 1870s

box 1, page 4 recto

2010.R.3-4r Chinese School (English Teacher), 1870s

Scope and Content Note

This photograph is a group portrait of a class of Chinese male students and their teacher.
box 1, page 5 recto

2010.R.3-5r Chinese Tea Hongs, 1870s

box 1, page 6 recto

2010.R.3-6r Chinese Garden, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

The photograph depicts four Chinese men ranged on the steps and first story of a two-story loggia.
box 1, page 7 recto

2010.R.3-7r Le fort "Macao" près de Canton, 1870s

box 1, page 8 recto

2010.R.3-8r "Shameen" concession européenne, vue prise de la rivière, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

In 1859, the foreign community in Guangzhou was moved from the banks of the Pearl River to Shamian, an island built on a former sandbar that was separated from the mainland by the creation of an artificial canal or river (now called Shajichong) and built up to encompass twenty-seven hectares. Britain leased three-fifths of the island from China, using it for their concession or settlement, while France leased the remaining land for theirs.
box 1, page 9 recto

2010.R.3-9r "Shameen" concession européenne, 1870s

box 1, page 10 recto

2010.R.3-10r "Shameen" concession européenne, bateaux chinois, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

This photograph was taken from the opposing shore of the Pearl River and shows Chinese boats in the foreground and the official buildings of the European settlement across the river.
box 1, page 11 recto

2010.R.3-11r Chinese Junks and Sampans, 1870s

box 1, page 12 recto

2010.R.3-12r Simpson Co's. House in Canton, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

Several European and Chinese men are ranged on the steps and porch of the house and women appear in the upper windows.
box 1, page 13 recto

2010.R.3-13r English Church (Shameen), 1870s

Scope and Content Note

View of the Shamian Christian Church built in 1865 for British Anglicans.
box 1, page 14 recto

2010.R.3-14r Lai Fong, Lee-Ming-Coon Garden, Canton, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

Title from the printed caption on the mount of another copy of this image contained in the Lai Fong album in the Clark Worswick Collection of Photographs of China and Southeast Asia (accession no. 2003.R.22, box 7). For another copy of this photograph bearing the same printed caption as well as a printed legend, see Images Related to Shanghai and Other Chinese Cities (accession no. 2007.R.15).
Caption written on mount: Chinese Tea Garden "Lee min Koon" near Canton.
box 1, page 15 recto

2010.R.3-15r Tea House and Rice Field, 1870s

box 1, page 16 recto

2010.R.3-16r Eating House, 1870s

box 1, page 17 recto

2010.R.3-17r Chinese Houses, 1870s

box 1, page 18 recto

2010.R.3-18r Rice Fields, 1870s

box 1, page 19 recto

2010.R.3-19r Chinese Hongs, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

Taken from across a field of tea plants, the view shows Chinese workers and children posing along a low mound in front of the walls of a large compound.
box 1, page 20 recto

2010.R.3-20r Chinese Pagoda, 1870s

box 1, page 21 recto

2010.R.3-21r Entrance to a Chinese Temple, 1870s

box 1, page 22 recto

2010.R.3-22r Pic Nic Party (near Canton), 1870s

Scope and Content Note

The group portrait includes 11 European men and one woman posed on the base of a paifang or memorial archway.
box 1, page 23 recto

2010.R.3-23r Race Pic Nic, Canton (Lee min Koon), 1873 December

Scope and Content Note

The photograph shows a large group of Europeans, primarily males, with a few women interspersed, outside one of the buildings of the Lee-Ming-Koon garden. The garden was near the Canton race track.
box 1, page 24 recto

2010.R.3-24r Lai Fong, Race Meeting, December, 1873, Canton, 1873

Scope and Content Note

The photograph depicts a large group of European men, along with a few European women and Chinese men, posed in and in front of the viewing stand. Signed in the negative: Afong.
box 1, page 25 recto

2010.R.3-25r Race Course (Canton), 1873?

Scope and Content Note

The view looking across the race course to the main pavilion shows the large crowds gathered for the races.
box 1, page 26 recto-1

2010.R.3-26r.1 Country near Canton, 1870s

box 1, page 26 recto-2

2010.R.3-26r.2 Chinese Girl, 1870s

Scope and Content Note

Photographic reproduction of a painting or print.
box 1, page 27 recto

2010.R.3-27r Waterfall about 100 Miles from Canton, 1870s