Fortifications of Beijing, 21 October 1860.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of the fortifications of Peking (Beijing), taken by Felice Beato (1825-1903), during the Second Opium War. In October 1860 a combined Anglo-French expeditionary force captured Beijing and proceeded to ransack the city. Felice Beato, a Venetian by birth, initially worked as a photographer in England. Around 1854 he began working with his brother-in-law James Robertson, based in Constantinople (Istanbul). Some photographs are signed 'Robertson, Beato and Co'. It is possible the 'and Co' refers to Felice's brother Antonio Beato. Robertson and Beato photographed the Crimean War in 1855 and the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858). Beato left the partnership with Robertson in 1860 to photograph the Opium War in China. In 1862 he moved to Japan, where he worked until 1877.