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[Photos] A Sepia-Toned Glimpse Into China's Last Dynasty

In this rare, 19th-century black-and-white photo collection, China appears surprisingly spartan and somber.

In May of 1870, Englishman Thomas Child took a position as a gas engineer for the Imperial Maritime Customs Service in Peking (now Beijing), reports The Atlantic. Leaving his wife and three children behind, Child joined a team of about 100 foreigners who settled in the Chinese capital during the Qing dynasty, its final empire before the country's imperial system was abolished in 1912.

The 29-year-old was a shutterbug. Over the span of 20 years, he managed to take some 200 photographs, recording the earliest montage of what it was like to live in late 19th-century China.

Last Thursday was the opening of an exhibition curated by Stacey Lambrow which showcases Child's photos at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery in New York. Among the subjects of his images are Zeng Jifen and Nie Ji Gui, whose identities were recently verified; Zeng is the daughter of Marquis Zeng Guofan, one of the top government officials during the Qing dynasty.

Take a tour of 19th-century Beijing, courtesy of The Atlantic, below:


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