[Chinese Woman with a Mandolin]

Object Details


[Chinese Woman with a Mandolin]


Unknown maker, American






Daguerreotype, hand-colored


9 x 6.5 cm (3 9/16 x 2 9/16 in.)

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A young Chinese woman in a lushly embroidered garment holds a pipa, or Chinese mandolin, as if she is playing it. The arrangement of ornaments in her carefully coiffed hair resembles the neck of her instrument. Her tiny, bound foot rests awkwardly on its side atop a cane stool, drawing attention to its uselessness for walking while also seeming to balance her for the length of the exposure. The riot of textures and the sitter's elegance overcome the simple studio setting of fabric backdrop and tiled floor. The highly patterned metal mat surrounding the daguerreotype provides an appropriate setting for the subject's richly decorated robe.

Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA, (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
The Making of a Daguerreotype: Images and Artifacts (April 14 to July 12, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), April 14 to July 12, 1998
In Focus: The Portrait (January 27 to June 14, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 27 to June 14, 2009
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Historical Witness, Social Messaging

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