MT: albumen print on paper mounted on card (9x5 / C:10x6)
TX: printed at lower left of margin in French <G. PREVOT, 5, Boulevart Montmartre>, inscribed with fountain pen at lower center of margin <Eress de Chine>, inscribed with pencil at rear upper center <Impce de Chine>, printed at center <G. PREVOT / PHOTOGRAPHE / de la Garde Impériale / 5, Boulevart Montmartre, 5 / PRÈS LE THÉATRE DES VARIÉTÉS / PARIS>, stamped below <MAISON / ALPH. GIROUX>
CM: Empress Dowager Cixi (29 November 1835 - 15 November 1908), popularly known in China as the West Dowager Empress, was from the Manchu Yehe Nara Clan. She was a powerful and charismatic figure who became the de facto ruler of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, ruling over China for 48 years from her husband's death in 1861 to her own death in 1908. Coming from an ordinary Manchu family and having been selected by the Xianfeng Emperor as a concubine, she exercised almost total control over the court under the nominal rule of her son the Tongzhi Emperor and her nephew the Guangxu Emperor, both of whom unsuccessfully attempted to rule in their own right. She was largely conservative during her rule and refused reform of the political system. Many historians considered her reign despotic, and attribute the fall of the Qing Dynasty to her rule. Many Chinese consider her a villain who is responsible for the fall of China to foreign powers.
The traditional view of the Empress Dowager Cixi was that of a devious despot who contributed in no small part to China's slide into corruption, anarchy, and revolution. During Cixi's time, she used her power to accumulate vast quantities of money, bullion, antiques and jewelry, using the revenues of the state as her own. By the end of her reign she had amassed a huge personal fortune, stashing away some eight and a half million pounds sterling in London banks. The lavish palaces, gardens and lakes built by Cixi were hugely extravagant at a time when China was verging on bankruptcy. [Edward Samuel Behr 1987, p.51]
EDWARD SAMUEL BEHR The Last Emperor 1987 Bantam, Toronto