William Armstrong (1867-1931) was not a professional photographer; still his astonishing photographs offered sometimes rather puzzling compositions.
Officially Director of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Shanghai Municipal Police between 1918 and 1927, this detective documented not only urban life and landscapes in Shanghai vicinity, but he also created enigmatic series of portraits both charming and unsettling at the same time.
What were exactly the functions of such images? Similarly to the French artist Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) who painted portraits of mad people in the nineteenth century, it has been said that Armstrong may have intended to capture ‘criminal types’ or ‘typical Chinese faces’.
Check out more of William Armstrong’s work 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.