|Dates: ||1832 - 1909|
|Born: ||Italy, Venice|
Early travel and war photographer active from 1853 onwards in the Mediterranean and the Crimea sometimes in partnership with James Robertson. He traveled widely and photographed the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny, in Second Opium War in China, Japan and in the Sudan.
Be careful, as there are two brothers Antonio Beato and Felice Beato (Grove Art explains the mystery.)
NOTE: Place and date of birth
 Recent scholarship had uncovered an application by Beato for a travel permit in 1858 that included information suggesting he was born in 1833 or 1834 on the island of Corfu. Earlier sources had given his birth date as 1825 or ca. 1825, but these dates may have been confused references to the possible birth date of his brother, Antonio. However, the death certificate discovered in 2009 provides the first definitive evidence of Beato's dates and places of birth and death. (Terry Bennett, History of Photography in China, 1842–1860, p. 241)
 Beato has long been described as British, Italian, Corfiot Italian, and/or Greek. The movements of his family and of early nineteenth century history in the Adriatic mean that he can justifiably be described by all these terms. Corfu was on and off part of Venetian territory from 1386 until 1815, when the Treaty of Paris placed it and the other Ionian Islands under British protection. Corfu was ceded to Greece in 1864. A line of the Beato family is recorded as having moved to Corfu in the 17th century and was one of the noble Venetian families that ruled the island during the Republic of Venice. (Terry Bennett, History of Photography in China, 1842–1860, p. 241)
D.F. Rennie, The British Arms in North China and Japan: Peking 1860; Kagoshima 1862, (London: John Murray, 1864) p.112.
Writing on the attack on the Taku Forts in China - 21st August 1860
I walked round the ramparts on the west side. They were thickly strewed with dead—in the north-west angle thirteen were lying in one group round a gun. Signor Beato was here in great excitement, characterising the group as "beautiful," and begging that it might not be interfered with until perpetuated by his photographic apparatus, which was done a few minutes afterwards. Not far from this group, a tall and very dignified-looking man of between fifty and sixty, stated to be the general who had conducted the defence, was lying dead, his lower jaw shattered by a rifle bullet.
Captain S.H. Jones-Parry, My Journey Round the World via Ceylon, New Zealand, Australia, Torres Straits, China, Japan, and the United States, Two Volumes (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1881), Volume II, p.25-26
Captain S.H. Jones-Parry recounts his meeting with Signor Beato in Yokohama:
I must not forget to mention that I met my old friend Signor Beato here. I had first made his acquaintance whilst engaged in photography under the walls of Sebastopol; I next accosted him amidst the blood and carnage at Lucknow; and now finally we met in the streets of Yokohama. Could anyone have chosen three more distant places, or more varied circumstances, to meet under? I have seen some splendid specimens of his art taken at all these places. I mention Beato here because he may be said to be the father of photography in Japan, and many of the best negatives there now are his productions. He was a true artist and not only manipulated well, but chose his subjects carefully and treated them artistically. He established his studio at Yokohama, but finding he had larger fish to fry, he sold his business; and I am sure scores of my old comrades will be glad to hear he is doing well. I think, next to Mrs. Seacole, Beato is as well known to the British army as any private individual. Of course I must dine with him: he, in conjunction with another merchant, runs the club, a very comfortable one, at which my name was immediately put down as an honorary member. He promised that I should meet a lot of good fellows, and he kept his word. At the dinner which would have rivalled Barnum's celebrated breakfast, we had such a polyglot lot! English, Welsh, German, Italian, Russian; judges, counsellors, artists, soldiers, merchants, and diplomatists. The cuisine and wines were first rate. I was introduced to the Russian as one who had killed scores of his countrymen at Sevastopol, and we agreed that drinking good champagne with Beato was better than fighting in the Crimea.
His photographs were used as the basis for illustrations in contemporary books including:
James Furgusson A History of Architecture in all Countries, from the Earliest Times to the Present Day, in three volumes, (London: John Murray, 1867)
R. Mounteney Jephson and Edward Pennell Elmhirst, 9th Regiment, Our Life in Japan. With illustrations from Photographs by Lord Walter Kerr, Signor Beato, and Native Japanese drawings, (London: Chapman and Hall, 1869)
Henry Knollys, Incidents in the China War of 1860 compiled from the Private Journals of General Sir Hope Grant, (Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1875)
Alexander Michie, From Peking to Petersburg, Through the Deserts and Steppes of Mongolia, Tartary, &c., (London: John Murray, 1864)
Robert Swinhoe, Narrative of the North China Campaign of 1860; Containing Personal Experiences of Chinese Characters, and of the Moral and Social Condition of the Country; Together with a Description of the Interior of Pekin, (London, Smith, Elder and Co., 1861)
Bennett, Terry, 2010, History of Photography in China: Western Photographers 1861-1879, (Bernard Quaritch Ltd) isbn-10: 0956301215 isbn-13: 978-0956301215 [Δ]
Cody, Jeffrey W. & Terpak, Frances, 2011, Brush & Shutter: Early Photography in China, (Getty Publications) isbn-10: 1606060546 isbn-13: 978-1606060544 [Δ]
Dobson, Sebastian, 2004, ‘'I been to keep up my position': Felice Beato in Japan, 1863–1877‘, in Rousmaniere & Hirayama, (eds.), 2004, Reflecting Truth: Japanese Photography in the Nineteenth Century, (Amsterdam: Hotei), pp. 30-39, ISBN 978-9074822763. [Δ]
Rousmaniere, Nicole Coolidge & Hirayama, Mikiko (eds.), 2005, Reflecting Truth: Japanese Photography in the Nineteenth Century, (Hotei Publishing) isbn-10: 9074822762 isbn-13: 978-9074822763 [Δ]
Thiriez, Régine, 1998, Barbarian Lens: Western Photographers of the Qianlong Emperor's European Palaces, (Routledge) isbn-10: 9057005190 isbn-13: 978-9057005190 [Δ]
Readings on, or by, individual photographers
Bowen, Claire, 2007, ‘Memorising the Mutiny: Felice Beato's Lucknow Photographs‘, Cahiers victoriens & édouardiens, no. 66, pp. 195-209 [Δ]
Chappell, Walter, 1958, Feb., ‘Robertson, Beato & Co. Camera vision at Lucknow‘, Image, no. 7, pp. 36-40 [Δ]
Clark, John; Fraser, John & Osman, Colin, 1989, A Chronology of Felix (Felice) Beato, (Privately printed by the authors) [Δ]
Fraser, John, 1981, ‘Beato's photograph of the interior of the Sikansar-Bagh at Lucknow‘, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 59, pp. 51-55 [Δ]
Harris, John, 2000, ‘Topography and Memory: Felice Beato's Photographs of India, 1858-1859‘, in Vidya Dehejia (ed.), 2001, India through the Lens - Photography 1840-1911, (New York: Smithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M Sackler Gallery), pp. 118-147 [Δ]
Henisch, B.A. & Henisch, H.K., 2002, ‘James Robertson and his Crimean War Campaign‘, History of Photography, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 258-268 [Δ]
Jones, David R., 2013, James Robertson and Felice Beato, Crimean War Photographers, (www.lulu.com: self-published) [Δ]
Lacoste, Anne, 2010, Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road, (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) [Δ]
Masselos, Jim & Gupta, Narayani, 1997, Beato's Delhi, 1858, 1887, (Delhi) [Δ]
White, Stephen, 1982, ‘Felix Beato and the First Korean War, 1871‘, The Photographic Collector, vol. 3, no. 1 [Δ]
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - email@example.com
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|Family history |
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