BU Presents “Of Battle and Beauty: Felice Beato’s Photographs of China” at the Boston University Art Gallery

in Arts, News Releases
October 27th, 2000

Contact: Laura Mikols, 617-353-3666 | lmikols@bu.edu

(Boston, Mass.) — Italian commercial photographer Felice Beato accompanied Anglo-French forces into China in 1860 for eight months at the end of the Second Opium War. He returned with 102 black and white images—the first photographs taken during a military campaign and some of the earliest known images of Beijing. Most of these are presented in Of Battle and Beauty: Felice Beato’s Photographs of China on display at the Boston University Art Gallery from Friday, November 3 through Sunday, December 17.

Beato documented European forces as they seized Beijing, destroyed the Old Summer Palace, and forced the Chinese Empire to accept a new and sweeping treaty. His photographs survive in the form of private albums originally compiled by British officers as a record of their experiences. Beato also furnished illustrations to contemporary journals such as The Illustrated London News.

Through a personal photographic album, illustrated journal, published memoir and public exhibitions, Beato’s photographs became the permanent and public visual memory of the Second Opium War and helped document England’s role as a colonial, military and commercial power in the 19th century. The images continue to shape Western perceptions of the campaign. Of Battle and Beauty features 90 photographs including some of the earliest known images of Beijing (then Peking), and the only surviving photographs of Wanshoushan, an imperial park burnt by British forces in 1860. The exhibition, drawn largely from the collection of Jane and Michael G. Wilson, was organized by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and exhibited there in March and April of this year. Boston University is the second venue for this exhibition.

What: Of Battle and Beauty: Felice Beato’s Photographs of China Exhibition Dates: Friday, November 3 through Sunday, December 18
Where: Boston University Art Gallery, 855 Commonwealth Ave.,John Stromberg, gallery director
Hours: Tues. – Fri., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sat. and Sun., 1-5 p.m.
Opening Reception: Friday, November 3, 6-8 p.m.
Lecture: Wednesday, November 15 at 6 p.m.
In the Concert Hall adjacent to the gallery: “Imperial Ideology and Historical Memory in Felice Beato’s 1860 Photographs of the Second Opium War.”

The exhibition and all Gallery events are free and open to the public. For information call 617/353-3329.

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