Ichang[Title from label in photograph album.]
Alternate Title: Terraced hillside with snow
Photograph by Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930, American, English)
Yichang, Hubei Sheng, China
March 3, 1908
A larger version of this image is available in HOLLIS, the online catalog of Harvard Library.
Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930) was the furthest traveled of all the Arnold Arboretum’s plant explorers and collectors of the early twentieth century. It is not an overstatement to credit Wilson with bringing Eastern Asian botany, history, and culture to widespread interest in western society, nor to exaggerate the introduction of thousands of Asian plant species to western gardens.
This photograph was among hundreds taken by Wilson during his Third Expedition to China (this was his first under the official aegis of The Arnold Arboretum). “A good set of photographs are really about as important as anything you can bring back with you,” Sargent wrote Wilson as he prepared for his journey while living in England. Sargent insisted Wilson take on this journey and on all that would follow, a large format Sanderson whole-plate field camera capable of recording both great detail and broad perspectives without distortion. Wilson turned out to be a considerably talented photographer–and not only has his work endured but it’s remarkable when you consider the double benefit of The Arboretum’s expeditions: botanical collecting along with visual documentation of cultural landscapes. Wilson photographed many locations in Asia that have changed considerably over the past century.
You can also read more about Wilson’s travels in our Expeditions Unveiled timeline, and Wilson’s digitized travel notebooks and field notes at Harvard Libraries Open Collections Program, Expeditions and Discoveries.
Copyright © 2006, President and Fellows of Harvard College, Arnold Arboretum Archives; all rights reserved.
Contact the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library of Harvard University, Jamaica Plain for permissions and fees.