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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

An Artist, an Empress and Their Dogs (Pets in the Archives Series: 2 of 3)

The Dwight William Tryon Papers, 1872-1930 is a small collection featuring photographs, clippings, a letter and a sketchbook. The photographs in this collection are a wonderful glimpse into the domestic life and hobbies of Tryon while at his summer house in Pandanaram. There are many photos of him sailing and fishing, but the one I am featuring here shows him, his wife Alice and their Springer Spaniel in a scene of domestic tranquility.

This photograph is captioned, "Albumen photograph, 30 August 1888. 13.8 cm x 17.7 cm. Depicted, Dwight and Alice Tryon in Padanaram."

The Cixi, Empress Dowager of China, 1903-1905, Photographs contains forty four glass plate negatives depicting the Empress Dowager of China, Cixi (1835-1908), of the Qing dynasty mostly photographed from 1903-1905, by Xunling (1874-1943). Scenes include the Empress Dowager on the Imperial Barge, in the Summer Palace with attendants, and individual portraits in a variety of court attire. You can browse all of these images online by clicking the link above!

The image to the right is a lovely and unique view of the Empress Dowager's favorite black Shitzu dog, Sea Otter. The Archives has received several fun inquires concerning the breed of the dog and its history at the Summer Palace. To see the item record for this photograph click the following caption:The Empress Dowager Cixi surrounded by attendants in front of Renshoudian, Summer Palace, Beijing. 1903-1905.

Rachael Cristine Woody
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives


  1. Are there any plans to publicly display Freer's Empress Dowager collection?

  2. This is great! Even in Imperial China, the dog is still (wo)man's best friend. Question about Tryon however, did his springer spaniel have a name?

  3. Anonymous 1: Freer+Sackler recognizes the exhibition potential of the Empress Dowager photographs,and we are currently exploring that potential! Stay tuned!

    Anonymous 2: I cannot find a record of the dog's name, but will update the post if I do!

    Thanks for the interest!

  4. I live in South Dartmouth, MA. Do we know what the physical address of the house is?

  5. Dear Anonymous #1: The Empress Dowager exhibition "Power|Play" will open this September!

    Dear Anonymous #3: We do not have his summer address on file, but you may be able to find it census records?