Revolution in pictures

Here, from Stapleton’s Civilizing Chengdu is Yang Wei, Chinese Revolutionary, in prison, November 25, 1911. Below is a picture of Yang as superintendent of police in March 1912. I use both of these in class when talking about 1911, but I am posting the top one here because it is such a striking picture. It’s obviously posed, as most pictures had to be back then, and Yang clearly has a sense of himself as the dramatic revolutionary that is lacking from every other picture of the 1911 crowd I can think of.  Is anyone aware of anything else like this from the period? Any guesses as to what the others in the shot are there for?

One response

  1. Could he really have grown that mustache in three months?

    On the photography, I’m not sure that pictures had to be posed as carefully by 1911 as they had been thirty or forty years earlier. The film-based Brownie was invented in 1900, and mass market 35mm cameras were rapidly approaching.

    Not that I’m saying the first picture isn’t a pose — clearly it is, on Yang Wei’s part. But the other people in the frame don’t have to have been posing per se to be part of the scene.

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