Fu Bingchang collection - 傅秉常
傅秉 常 Fu Bingchang (known as Foo Ping-sheung) 1895-1965. Graduate of Hong Kong University where he studied civil engineering. Railway engineer for Wu Tingfang (c.1916-18). Attaché to the delegation of the Canton Constitutional Government to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Secretary to Sun Yatsen 1918-24. Governor of Hainan Island 1919-1922. Superintendent of Customs and Commissioner for Foreign Affairs at Canton 1922-26. Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and later Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Nationalist Government 1927. Director of Customs Administration 1927. Accompanied Dr. Wu Chaoshu to America 1927-28. On his return to China in 1928 he became a member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the National Government, a member of the Legislative Yuan and chairman of its Foreign Relations Committee. A principal drafter of the Chinese Civil Code 1933-1936. Member of the Central Executive Committee 1935. In August 1941 Fu was appointed Political Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, of which post he was relieved in December 1942, when appointed Ambassador to the U.S.S.R. in January 1943. Ambassador to Moscow 1943-1949. Retired to Paris 1949-1956. Returned to work for Chiang Kaishek as President of the Anti-Corruption Board and Vice President of the Judicial Yuan in Taiwan 1956-1965. State funeral 1965.
The copyright of these images is owned by the family of Fu Bingchang. If you wish to use an image for any purpose other than for research or study purposes or if you require a higher resolution copy of an image then you must contact the copyright owner. Please direct any such requests to this address (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Fu Bingchang - Life and Photography, by Yee Wah Foo (University of Lincoln)
Fu Bingchang was born in the village of Foshan, Guangdong, in 1895.The records show that Fu’s family was well-established in the area, his ancestors having lived in and around Foshan for over 300 years after emigrating originally from Henan Province.  Encouraged as a child to draw and paint by his parents, Fu inherited his artistic ability from his mother, nee Mai, who was known locally in Foshan for her beautiful fan paintings.As a child, Fu excelled in “Western-style painting and charcoal drawing”. One illustration by Fu Bingchang that survives today is a charcoal sketch he did of his first concubine, Song Chongfan, in February 1929. Fu’s life-long passion for photography can be traced back to around 1920 when as a young man working for the civil service, he and a few friends founded a photographic society called Jinshi, meaning ‘scenery club’.
Fu Bingchang’s family was cultured and reasonably well-off.Fu’s father, Hing Shia, had inherited property from his own father, an educated businessman who had made money through construction ventures in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, Hing Shia died when Fu was a young child, leaving Fu’s mother in difficult financial circumstances and with the full burden of caring for her young family.It was Fu’s uncle, Fu Yi Pang, a wealthy merchant of Hong Kong, who took an interest in young Fu and provided him with funds to pursue an education.Consequently at the age of ten, Fu was sent to St. Stephen’s College in Hong Kong, and then went on to study civil engineering at Hong Kong University. After graduating from Hong Kong University with distinction, Fu worked for his uncle by marriage, Wu Tingfang, who had joined Sun Yatsen’s revolutionary party and at the time represented the northern regime under Yuan Shikai. It was about this time that Fu’s interest in art turned to photography and with the help of two close friends, Dr. Liu Tizhi and Mr. Pan Da Mai, Fu established Jinshi.The object of Jinshi was to specialise in scenic photography – hence the name of the group – and to put forward their best images for competition at international exhibitions.Although Jinshi did not survive long (the society dissolved in 1926 when Fu left Guangzhou to work as the Nationalist Government’s Inspector General of Customs and Excise) the society seems to have had some success.According to a preface written by Fu in 1933 for a published photograph album by Dr. Liu Tizhi, several images from Jinshi society members were picked for exhibitions on show in London, Paris and Tokyo.Jinshi members seem to have approached their hobby seriously.They held discussions about the work of their contemporaries in Europe; they would investigate what was new and innovative in the way of equipment and methods; they would evaluate each other’s work.And more practically, trips to scenic places in the countryside were planned every weekend so that members could capture their subjects and then develop the images themselves.In this way, noted Fu in the preface, he took thousands of images of rural Guangdong and Guanxi and learned much from those pleasant days.
Fu’s images in the archive can be divided between two periods in his life:those taken in the 1930s when he worked as Vice Minister of the Administrative section of Foreign Affairs, and then those taken later in Soviet Russia from 1943 to 1949 when he was appointed to the position of ambassador to Moscow by the Nationalist leader, General Chiang Kaishek. As a prominent member of the Prince’s Clique (Taizi pan) -a political network headed by Sun Ke, the son of Sun Yatsen, and made up mainly of elites from Guangdong in the Nationalist Party - many of Fu’s images, especially in the early period feature Taizi pan members. Fu’s position as a career politician in Chiang’s government enabled him to capture rare images of his contemporaries and their wives, and this makes Fu’s images interesting both from a social historical sense as well as from a political historical perspective. Looking at the composition of Fu’s images overall, his approach and sensitivity of form would appear to derive from his happy experiences with Jinshi and also the early encouragement in his youth of his mother.
1. Lo Hsiang-Lin,Fu Bingchang and Modern China. (Hong Kong: Institute of Chinese Culture, 1973, Introduction.
2. Lo Hsiang-Lin., p.117.
3. See Lo, Hsiang-Lin, p198. ‘Charcoal drawing by P.S.Foo’
4. Liu, T.G. Pictorial Photographs, The Liang You Publishing Co., Shanghai, 1934.
5. Hu, Thomas., Editor and Publisher. “The Guangzhou Gazette” Friday 9 May 1924. Published by Thomas Hu, 64 Yan Chai Street, Guangzhou. 1924.
6. Oral History Series No. 45, The Reminiscences of Mr. Fu Ping Chang. Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, l993, Introduction.
7. Lo, Hsiang-Lin, p.118.
8. Dictionary of People in the Republican Period (Minguo ren wu da zidian), Hebei Peoples Publishing Co. 1991, City of Shi Jia Zhuang. Pp.1158-1159. (Copy located in East Asia Reading Room, Cambridge University Library).
9. Wong Chun Wai, M. Phil Dissertation, ‘The Prince’s Clique and Hong Kong Merchants, 1918-1927’ (St. Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 2005). I am grateful to Wong Chun Wai, who sent me this excellent study in October 2005.
10. Fu Bingchang. Diary September 1945.By kind permission, Chung Hung Foo.
Last update on Monday 22 October 2012 (13:44) by J. Carstairs
Browse or search all
images and collections
Chinese Maritime Customs
Shanghai Municipal Police
G. Warren Swire
National Archives, London
About the project