Loewentheil China Photography Collection
Works from the Loewentheil Collection on view from the exhibition Lai Fong (ca.1839 – 1890): Photographer of China at the Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University
The Loewentheil Photography of China Collection is the world’s greatest collection of early photography of China.
The Collection consists of more than 21,000 photographs spanning the earliest days of paper photography in the 1850s through the 1930s, with more than one-half of the photographs dating to the late Qing Dynasty. The archive, an unsurpassed artistic treasure trove of early photography of China, could not be replicated today due to the scarcity of quality material. It includes hundreds of the greatest masterpieces of Chinese photography in superb condition created by the artistic giants of early photography of China. It was assembled with an emphasis on photographs of the highest historical and artistic quality. This is the world’s finest holding of early photographic works of China by both Chinese and international photographers.
This exhibition presents nearly fifty photographs made by Lai Fong in China in the 1870s and 1880s. Most are from the more than 400 Lai Fong photographs in the renowned Loewentheil Collection of more than 21,000 early photographs of China.
Lai Fong was internationally acclaimed in his time as the foremost Chinese photographic artist. He was regarded as a master photographer of exceptional artistic skill and vision and an expert technician of the new photographic process. Pioneering European masters of the wet collodion process admired Lai’s photographs of China. They noted that Lai “had entered the arena of European art, associating his name with photography in its best form.”
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