Collection of Photographs of War Atrocities in China


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Item#: 57974 price:$2,500.00

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(CHINA). Collection of Photographs of War Atrocities in China. [Canton and Shanghai], circa 1904-1924. Toned bromide and gelatin silver prints, unbound collection. $2500.

Explicit collection of original browntone photographs taken during hostilities in China in the first two decades of the 20th century. Photographs are of the most graphic and horrible nature— a documentary photo archive of the anarchy that was China.

In the wake of the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1912, a power vacuum was created in China, with numerous warlords vying for power. These photographs document episodes within that struggle in the Nanjing area. Most of the photographs are of executions ordered at Shanghai by the “Nanking Warlord” Sun Ch’uan-fang. Sun, who was also known as the leader of the “League of Five Provinces,” commanded the northern provinces following the end of China’s imperial age. He defeated and killed the bandit leaders Ch’ang Wu, Liu Pa, and Hsu Shih Yi, at Huchuang, Lintsing, in January, 1924. Many photographs display the aftermath of the battle and the bodies of the executed bandits. Sun’s victory was short-lived, however, and he was overthrown in March 1927 by the Kuomintang- and Chinese Communist Party-led Northern Expedition of 1926-27. Most photographs with contemporary explanations on mount or on separate paper labels.

Included in this collection are:

14 photographs were taken between 1900 and 1904. Accompanying them is a letter of provenance on State Department stationery indicating they came from the collection of Robert McWade, U.S. Consul to Canton from 1900-1904, via the U.S. Department of State. Department of State envelope included. The photographs are each 3 by 4 inches.

Nine photographs of corpses, decapitations, flayings, and decapitated heads. Accompanying the photographs is a note saying that these pictures were enclosed with a letter dated April 6, 1927. The photographs are each 5 by 3 inches.

One photograph, matted, 8 by 5-1/2 inches, showing the decapitated heads of three bandit leaders,

One photograph, matted, 4 by 5-1/2 inches, showing the dead bodies of two of the bandit leaders, Ch’ang Wu and Liu Pa, dated January 15, 1924.

One photograph, matted, 14-1/2 by 5-1/2 inches, showing the corpses of dozens of bandits who were killed in the battle against the three bandit leaders, also dated January 15, 1924.

Some wear and fading to all photographs, with a few chips lost. Three photographs split. A unique and horrifying archive.

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