Having completed his studies in Law, Auguste François (1857-1935) began a diplomatic career that led him to work in French Ministry of Internal Affairs, then in Ministry of External Affairs. In 1886, he volunteered to accompany the French physiologist and diplomat Paul Bert in Tonkin. Since then he had kept on moving back and forth through the Middle Kingdom, while travelling to other countries. He became Consul-General and was appointed Delegate to the Yunnan railway Commission in charge of negotiating with Chinese authorities the construction of the Laokay-Yunnanfu railway, which linked Southern China and North Indochina. Between 1896 and 1904, he travelled across Southern China (Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan) and Tibet, and navigated through the Yangtze River. He has left us today over hundreds of photographs that captured daily life in China, magnificent landscapes, while questioning customs and the gradual modernization of a traditional society. Auguste François’ photographic archives are mainly held at the Musée Guimet (Paris).
See more images on the website of the Agence photographique de la Réunion des musées nationaux and watch “Auguste François: Yunnan, China” from the archives of the Pitt Rivers Museum here.
Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Cabos’s fantastic trilingual blog about photography and photographers in China.