BOXER REBELLION - EUROPEAN SCHOOL. Three Dramatic Scenes of the Eight-Nation Alliance Relieving the Siege of Diplomatic Legations in Beijing. Ca 1900-1905.

BOXER REBELLION - EUROPEAN SCHOOL. Three Dramatic Scenes of the Eight-Nation Alliance Relieving the Siege of Diplomatic Legations in Beijing. Ca 1900-1905.

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3 MAGNIFICENT ORIGINAL PAINTINGS OF THE CHINESE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE FIGHTERS OF THE BOXER REBELLION AND THE EIGHT-NATION ALLIANCE gouache on paper on canvas, float-mounted and framed:

THE WALLS OF TAKU FORTS ARE BESIEGED BY THE FORCES OF THE EIGHT-NATION ALLIANCE, JUNE 1900

Frame size: 43 7/8 x 61 1/4 inches
Sight size: 40 x 57 1/2 inches
Image size: 38 3/4 x 54 1/2 inches 

$125,000.00

The forces of the German (flying a German flag, but wearing American Uniform) and French armies attack the Chinese army beneath the walls of Taku Forts, in a scene very reminiscent of the American forces assaulting the outer walls of Peking on the 14th of august, 1900.

FORCES OF EIGHT-NATION ALLIANCE DISEMBARK AND ENGAGE WITH THE BOXER REBELLION IN THE AREA SURROUNDING TIENTSIN, CA JULY 1900

Frame size: 46 3/8 x 60 1/4 inches
Sight: 42 3/8 x 56 3/8 inches
Image: 39 3/4 x 53 inches

The ships of the French Navy are seen to the right of the image bombarding the walled-city of Tientsin, the French Army overruns the fighters of the Boxer Rebellion, the forces of the other foreign nations are arraigned on the left

BATTLE ON THE STREETS OF BEIJING, AUGUST 1900

Frame size: 46 3/8 x 60 1/4 inches
Sight: 42 3/8 x 56 3/8 inches
Image: 39 3/4 x 53 inches

The Russian Imperial Army on the left, and the French Army on the right are seen entering Beijing and engaging in fierce battle with the fighters of the Boxer Rebellion.

CONDITION: some minor surface abrasions overall, one or two pin holes, a few insignificant stains

These extraordinarily dramatic images were created as European propaganda and clearly show the continuing insensitivity that Europeans and Americans had at the turn of the 19th/20th-century to the resentment that the Chinese people felt towards the presence of Westerners in their country, and their detrimental influence on Chinese culture. The Boxer Rebellion was the third time in the 19th-century, including the Opium Wars of 1839-1842 and 1856-1860, that China had tried to expel westerners and end the Opium Trade that was doing so much damage. 

As a result some of the scenes are a bit inexact when it comes to topographical and historical detail, and the Chinese characters in the banners on the streets of Beijing are fanciful.

These images are evidence of the bias of history, recording the complex nature of the conflict between western and Chinese cultures during the 19th-century and early 20th-centuries. They are an extremely rare survival: we know of no other copies.

The Boxer Rebellion was a brief but bloody conflict that raged in Northern China during the latter half of 1900. These three panels by anonymous artist(s) capture the complexity and cruelty of key events of the rebellion.

In 1900 a group of eight nations (England, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, the United States, Russia and Japan) were all maneuvering to gain political, economic and military influence in China. Their objectives were various, including trade, access to raw materials, free use of the oceans, and in the case of Russia and Japan, China’s territory itself.

To further these interests each nation stationed legations of diplomats and their families in Peking (now Beijing). Beijing was the seat of the Qing Dynasty, which had ruled most of China since the seventeenth century.

Resistance to the “eight nations” was widespread, and was often mingled with anti-Christian sentiment. One such group was the I ho ch-uan or “Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists.” Adherents to this sect, mostly peasants from rural China, practiced a ritualized form of exercise that they claimed rendered them impervious to bullets and bombs. Western observers watched these exercises and came to refer to members of the sect as “Boxers.” By mid 1900 the Boxers numbered in the thousands.

The Boxer Rebellion was preceded by a wave of anti-Christian violence in the rural parts of Northern China. Then in mid June, 1900 a group of Boxers surrounded and threatened to expel a legation of diplomats and their families from Beijing. The Legation was protected by a force of about 450 soldiers and marines, which were vastly outnumbered by the Boxers. A multinational force of 2,000 troops under the command of an English Admiral named Edward Seymour quickly landed on the Chinese coast and began traveling by train to reinforce the Legation.

Until the Seymour Expedition, the Qing Dynasty had tried to remain uncommitted. They distrusted the Boxers, viewing them as a threat to the already weakened powers of the Imperial government. However, the government reacted with alarm at the Seymour “invasion” and Imperial Chinese Army troops began fighting the eight nation allies alongside the Boxer forces. Seymour’s force was surrounded and was threatened with annihilation before it could reach Beijing.

A much larger eight nation relief force landed in China in mid July, and within a month the Boxers and the Imperial Army had been crushed. The Qing government agreed to a drastic scheme of reparations to be paid over forty years that crippled the Chinese economy. The government fell eight years later, the last of China’s imperial dynasties.

 

 

 


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