Early Photographs of Asia from the Estate of Fong Chow

Swann Galleries’ February 26 auction of Fine Photographs features several early photographic albums filled with images of Asia that come from the Estate of Fong Chow.

Chow (1923-2012) was a renowned ceramicist who earned a Master’s Degree in Ceramics from Alfred University in New York. He was named chief designer for Glidden Pottery, the American equivalent of stoneware known as Cizhou ware in China. Soon after, he was hired as a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he worked for 25 years.
 
During his tenure, Chow was responsible for the installation of Chinese ceramics and two Chinese Buddhist sculpture galleries. He acquired for the museum important Chinese and Japanese paintings, Korean ceramics and Indian sculptures. 

 


He was also a photographer and collector of photographs. Among the items from his estate are an important travel album formerly belonging to William Williams containing a total of 85 photographs of Japan, China, India and Egypt by Felice Beato and others, 1870s; an album with more than 95 photographs of Japan, Hong Kong, Gibraltar, Malta, Italy and Pt. Said, including panoramas, mid 1870s; and a mini-collection of 78 rare carte-de-visite portraits in en plein air or studio settings by various photographers and subjects including street tradesmen, religious figures, women and mandarin officials in locations throughout China, including Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Soochow,  1860s-1870s.