photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
Photography by Serge Vargassoff
Photography by by Xiaoyang Yu
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These two photographs are the twelfth in our ‘then and now’ series that we are sharing on Photo of the Day that have been researched by Nina Wang, an intern from the University of Sydney who has been working with our Registration team cataloguing the lantern slides of Serge Vargassoff taken in China from 1910s to 1940s. Serge Vargassoff (1906-1965) is a Russian-born photographer who established himself as a professional photographer, at the age of 20 in Beijing and became a long-term resident of the city. A set of 89 lantern slides in a Chinese style wooden box was donated to the Museum by Vera Vargassoff, a niece of Serge Vargassoff in 2010.
Nina has written the following:
This slide shows a winter snow-covered scene in the Summer Palace with a neat path in the foreground and the Foxiang Ge (Tower of Buddhist Incense) in the background. Originally built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (Qing dynasty) and burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, Foxiang Ge was rebuilt in its original style during Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1875-1908, Qing dynasty). The octahedral tower has three stories with four-layered eaves, altogether 36.44 meters high. Standing upright on a 20 meter-high stone foundation, it constitutes the centre of the Summer Palace landscape. A statue of the thousand-handed Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, cast in bronze and gilded with gold, stands inside the tower. The statue, five meters high and five tons in weight, was cast during the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming dynasty.