Louis-Philippe Messelier – A View from China in the 1920s

Louis-Philippe Messelier – A View from China in the 1920s

Life in China

At 18-years-old, Louis-Philippe Messelier (1901-1986?) left his hometown in France to travel to China where he worked in the woollen industry during the 1930s. Based in the French concession of Shanghai, he juggled his business career with taking photographs as a journalist for the French Journal of Shanghai. Louis-Philippe Messelier wandered everywhere: down the streets to see the ritual processions, the acrobats and the snake charmers; at the races with the local aristocracy; inside film studios; on rooftops taking aerial views; in the countryside admiring the beauty of antic remains or fishermen’s cottages. Far from falling into the easy ‘exotic’ pitfalls, Louis-Philippe Messelier distinguished himself by the dynamism of his angles of view, his atypical subjects, and his mastering of contrasts. This rare collection is composed of nearly 250 photographs extracted from original stereoscopic glass plates, which depict the rapid changes occurring in Modern China.

A snake charmer on the streets of Shanghai, late 1920s

Snake Charmer, Shanghai, 1929

A rooftop view of The Bund in 1929

The Bund, Shanghai, 1929


Swans on rice fields

Chinese opera actor in Beijing in 1929

Opera actor N°4, Beijing, 1929

Be sure to check out the rest of the collection from Marine Cabos’ at Photography in China.

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