|Tan Kim Ching and family
Fedor Jagor (1816–1900)
Albumen stereoview print
Gift of Mr and Mrs Lee Kip Lee
Fedor Jagor, a German ethnologist, naturalist, and photographer, travelled in Southeast Asia in the late 1850s. In 1857 and 1858 he took many photographs of Singapore and its people. While here he met prominent Peranakan tycoon Tan Kim Ching. In the late 1860s, Jagor’s stereoview photographs of Singapore were published in Berlin.
Stereoviews were popular in the 19th century. Two photographs of the same image are taken at slightly different angles and placed side-by-side on a card. When looked at through a binocular viewer, they create an illusion of depth.
A note on the back indicates the photograph was taken in Singapore and that the subject is a rich Chinese merchant from Malacca “who has Malay blood through the women”. Although it does not specifically mention Tan Kim Ching, Jagor singles him out by name in his travelogue published in 1866. He also describes the Peranakan community at length, which altogether strongly suggests that the image is a portrait of Tan and his family.
This stereoview is the oldest photograph on paper in Singapore’s National Collection.