Photography Friday: Willam Saunders

Born in Woolwich, England, William Saunders (1832-1892) traveled to China as an engineer in 1860. He returned to Britain, studied photography, and then went back to China with photographic equipment in order to open a commercial studio in Shanghai in 1862.

Located on Shanghais bustling Bund, his studio was the citys most successful photographic enterprise in the late nineteenth century. He was the first photographer known to produce hand-colored photographs in China. Saunders focused primarily on portraiture but also photographed street life, local customs, current events, scenic views, and even executions. 

A series of fifty printsPortfolio of Sketches of Chinese Life and Characterwas published in 1871. This portfolio, in addition to his photographic contributions to Illustrated London News and other publications, disseminated information about life in China to Westerners. He was the dominant studio in Shanghai until his retirement in 1888.

Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Caboss fantastic platform about photography and photographers in China.


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