[PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM; CHINA] Through the Yantze Gorges.
[Title stamped on upper board]. Photograph album, probably dating to the late 1890s. Large oblong quarto (240 x 375 mm), original quarter black morocco over black cloth boards, upper board with gilt rule and gilt-stamped title ‘THROUGH THE YANTZE [sic] GORGES.’ (loss of backstrip, remaining leather worn), silk lining papers, containing  silver albumen prints in identical 56 x 82 mm format, neatly mounted in rows of three (nine per side) on rectos and versos of  leaves of heavy board (i.e. the sixteenth side has only three prints); the protective tissue interleaving is intact; only one of the sides (with nine views) has manuscript captions below each image, the remainder of the photos in the album being uncaptioned; the prints are in uniformly good condition, virtually unfaded and unrubbed; the board mounts are generally foxed at the edges, but the foxing has not encroached on the prints.
This unique and important album was compiled by an unidentified traveller-photographer towards the end of the 1890s. The album documents a trip up the Yangtze River from Chongqing to Yichang (with some views of Shanghai) made by a Western traveller with a private camera in the years immediately before the Boxer Rebellion, and includes many topographical views of the spectacular scenery, villages and towns, indigenous people, and life on the mighty river itself.
In 1888 English merchant Archibald John Little (husband of Alicia Little, 1845-1926, travel writer, photographer and campaigner for women’s rights in China) published the work Through the Yang-tse Gorges, or Trade and travel in Western China. We believe that the re-use of this title (with a different spelling) by the compiler of this album was no coincidence, as the album contains one piece of internal evidence that suggests the photographer may have met the Littles (at Chongqing?): one of the snaps shows a European couple on the steps of their grand house; they bear a very strong resemblance to Archibald and Alicia Little. We have included a close-up of this image in this catalogue entry. (For another surviving portrait of the couple, taken in Shanghai some time after their marriage in 1886, click here)