research seminar: History of photography

Shanghai shashin? The China Portfolio of Baron Raimund von Stillfried

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

17.30, Research Forum South Room

Speaker(s): Dr Luke Gartlan (School of Art History, University of St Andrews)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Julian Stallabrass (The Courtauld Institute of Art), Alexandra Moschovi (University of Sunderland) and Graham Smith (Editor, History of Photography)

In 1876 at the height of his career, the Yokohama-based photographer Baron Raimund von Stillfried travelled to Shanghai to undertake a portfolio of 'Chinese characters'. All but forgotten since its completion, this paper argues that the commercial failure of this portfolio highlights the potential schisms that could emerge between the work of nineteenth-century expatriate photographers and the expectations of their international clientele. By importing the aesthetic conventions of Yokohama souvenir photography—or Yokohama shashin—to the Chinese context, Stillfried destabilised many of the prevailing imperialist codes that conceived of the two nations in diametrical terms.

This seminar is co-sponsored with the History of Photography journal.

The History of Photography research seminar series aims to be a discursive platform for the discussion and dissemination of current research on photography. From art as photography and early photographic technology to ethnographic photographs and contemporary photography as art, the seminar welcomes contributions from researchers across the board, whether independent or affiliated with museums, galleries, archives, libraries or higher education, and endeavours to provide scholars with a challenging opportunity to present work in progress and test out new ideas.

The seminars usually take place once a term, on Wednesday evenings at 5.30pm in the Research Forum. The papers, and formal discussion, are followed by informal discussion over a glass of wine.

Contacts: Julian Stallabrass (, Alexandra Moschovi ( and Benedict Burbridge (

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