Shanghainese Lady with Bound Feet

William Saundersc.1870

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum

Fukuoka Asian Art Museum
Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan

Genre paintings of everyday life known as China Trade paintings showed Chinese people categorized by types or occupations and this trend is evident in the early photographs taken by foreign photographers in Shanghai. This piece serves as a prime example of this kind of image˗ rather than expressing the individuality of the portrait it shows a type of "Chinese person." From the mid-19th century, portraits taken by Chinese photographers followed in the tradition of portrait painting and photographs showing the subject sat down face-on or with corrections to the shading on the face are most common. In the work of European or American photographers such as William Saunders, the influence of such traditions are not recognizable.
The othering perspective of foreign photographers towards Chinese people is shown in the exotic presentation of the lady in the photograph˗ her bound feet have been placed on the table and she is holding a fan. The photographer, William Saunders ran the longest running photography studio in Shanghai, from 1864 to 1887. A British national, he passed away in Shanghai in 1893 but is still an important figure today in the city’s photography history.


  • Title: Shanghainese Lady with Bound Feet
  • Creator: William Saunders
  • Date: c.1870
  • Physical Dimensions: w17.7 x h22.6 cm
  • Type: albumen print

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps