托马斯·查尔德 (1841-1898)

托马斯·查尔德在1871至1889年近二十年的时间内在北京和京郊拍摄了大量的早期影像,其中对外编辑、销售的有两百多种。托马斯·查尔德是早期来华外国摄影师中最优秀的摄影师之一,其实,他的主要工作并不是摄影,他的主要职务是大清海关总务司驻京燃气工程师,1870年5月,他在英国成功的面试了这个职位。1870年6月25日,他告别妻子儿女,从伦敦出发由海上经直布罗陀海峡、马耳他、斯里兰卡南部、新加坡,于8月9日到达香港,8月14日到达上海,1870年8月27日抵达北京。
托马斯·查尔德在北京居住工作的近二十年间,拍摄了大量的北京建筑、民众生活、外国人肖像、官员肖像及人物合影等,其中1875年拍摄的《颐和园全景》(编号1,全景,南望)使人印象非常深刻,这时的颐和园很多建筑还没有建设,与现在的全景相比流露出很多历史信息。另外,他这一时期拍摄的被毁的圆明园也是非常珍贵的早期影像史料。他1875年拍摄的《青铜简仪》(编号49),这幅作品入选《中国摄影史 西方摄影师1861-1879》p63。《青铜简仪》这幅作品的画面构图及拍摄清晰度都超出我们现代人的想象,黄建鹏画廊花近万美金购买了这幅作品。画面的质感与现代大底片相机拍摄的清晰度及质感不相上下。早期蛋白质地的相纸记录并沉淀了历史。
托马斯·查尔德不仅天资卓越,而且动手能力极强,他不仅能胜任燃气设施组装这样的大型任务,还能维修缝纫机等各种机械修理工作。他还能胜任房屋修缮、图纸设计等工作。他还掌握当时较深奥的化学知识及地理知识。正因为他有这样的动手能力和较为扎实的知识结构,他对北京地区进行了全面的影像描述,他拍摄的影像是早期中国摄影史中反映北京地区最为重要的作品,也是北京地区传世中最为精彩的影像。
1889年,托马斯·查尔德和家人一同返回了英国,之后,他还担任了英国汽车公司的总监。1898年5月27日,托马斯因马车事故而去世。

 

 

 

Thomas Child (1841-1898)

Thomas Child produces a group of some two hundred photographs of Peking and its immediate surroundings from 1871 to 1889. His work ranks him among the best early photographers of China. But photography is not his main job, in May 1870 he successfully interviewed for the post of gas engineer in Peking for the Imperial Maritime Customs Service. Parted with his wife and children on 25th June 1870, Thomas Child left by sea for China and traveled via Gibraltar, Malta, Port Galle and Singapore, taking with him his camera and photographic equipment. He was at Hong Kong on 9th August, Shanghai on the 14th, and finally reached Peking on the 27th August 1870. 
During the near twenty years living in Peking, Thomas Child took lots of Peking buildings, people’s life, foreigners and officers portrait, group photo and so on, among which the ‘The Summer Palace View’(No.1 Front General View) gives people deep impression. At that time, many buildings of the Summer Palace had not been constructed. Compared with present view, it shows much historical information. In addition, he also took many photographs of the destroyed old summer palace, which are also very valuable early image. The ‘Bronze Astrolobe’ (No.49), taken in 1875, is selected on page 63 of History of Photography in China Western Photographers 1861-1879. Its picture composition and image sharpness have been beyond our imagination, and Huangjianpeng gallery cost nearly ten thousands dollars to purchase this work. The texture of this picture is almost the same with contemporary pictures taken by the camera with big negative film. Early albumen photographic paper recorded and precipitated the history.
Thomas Child is not only talented, but also has excellent hands-on skills. He was equally adept at installing a gas-making plant as he was in repairing a sewing machine, refurbishing a house or drawing design and so on. He also mastered the geology and chemistry knowledge at that time. Just because of these skills and solid knowledge structure, Thomas Child had a comprehensive image description to Peking area. The images he took are the most important works reflecting Peking area in early China photography history, and are also the most excellent works handed down.
Thomas Child returned to England with his family in 1889, and later became a director of the British Motor Company. He died on 27th May 1898, after falling from his horse-drawn carriage and fracturing his skull.

 


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