Released June 21, 2003
Salem, Mass. - ThePeabody Essex Museum will inaugurate its new photography gallery with Masterpieces of Asian Nineteenth Century Photography. Drawn from the museum’s own collection of what is perhaps the finest assemblage of nineteenth century Asian photography in the world, this exhibition brings together the work of the greatest nineteenth century photographers ? both Asian and European ? who worked in India, China, Japan and Tibet. Asian Masterpieces will be exhibited in the new Peabody Essex Museum, scheduled to open on June 21 following a $125 million transformation. Masterpieces of Asian Nineteenth Century Photography will be on view through September 28, 2003.
“Masterpieces of Asian Nineteenth Century Photography is the first exhibition of its kind in an American museum,” said Clark Worswick, consulting curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum. “Nowhere else will you be able to experience the finest examples of nineteenth century Asian photography brought together in one exhibition.”
The exhibition comprises albumen and platinum prints drawn from a collection first begun at the museum in 1855. Significantly, the exhibition includes the first photographs ever taken in Northern China (Beijing), the Summer Palace, before it was burnt in 1860, and the first photographic survey of Tibet.
Artists represented in the exhibition include, Felix Beato, Colin Murray, Baron Raimund von Stillfried-Ratenicz, Kusakabe Kimbei, Raja Lala Deen Dayal, John Claude White, Milton M. Miller, and John Thomson.
At present the Asian photography collection of the Peabody Essex Museum numbers approximately 19,000 prints many of which are unique examples of nineteenth century photographic art. Highlights of the exhibition cut across the Asian scene in the first years that much of Asia was first seen by the photographers. It is the abiding miracle of this work that these pictures - made between 1855 and 1900 - remain as fresh today as they were when they were taken. Photography at the Peabody Essex Museum Peabody Essex Museum’s collection includes more than 500,000 photographs. These extensive holdings are the result of the amalgamation of collections formerly held by three museums: the China Trade Museum of Milton, Mass., the Essex Institute, and the Peabody Museum, Salem, Mass. The Peabody Essex Museum was amongst the first museum in the western hemisphere to collect photography, starting in 1855. The scope and quality of the collection make it not only unique, but also a valuable resource for scholars and others interested in photography and photographic resources.