Tomb with stone effigies, China, 1909

September 28, 2017

Tomb with stone effigies, China, 1909

Tomb with stone effigies, China, 1909

Tomb with stone effigies, China, 1909

Tomb with stone effigies of horses, tigers, cats, deer, men, etc. with a temple. Cupressus funebris Endl. behind. [Information from label on verso of photo mount.] 15.5 x 20.5 cm. Emulsion on glass.

Tomb with stone effigies China Western Hupeh

[Title from recto of mount.] Alternate Title: Tomb with animal statues in front and man beside
Photograph by Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930), American, English
China
February 28, 1909

A larger version of this image is available in Harvard University’s Hollis+ catalog.

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 (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,” Charles Sprague Sargent (1841 -1927), the first Director of The Arnold Arboretum, 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 also remarkable when you consider the double benefit of The Arboretum’s expeditions: botanical collecting along with visual documentation of cultural landscapes.

Copyright © 2006, President and Fellows of Harvard College, Arnold Arboretum Archives; all rights reserved.

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