A black-and-white photograph: panoramic view from the west of the ruins of one of the pavilions in the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan 圓明園) in Beijing, the so-called “European Pavilions” (Xiyanglou 西洋楼). The palace was designed and built by the Jesuits in the European Baroque style. The construction was led by the Jesuit Giuseppe Castiglione (1688–1766). As an expression of heaven on earth, the Old Summer Palace housed thousands of priceless treasures and works of art. Its beauty was known even beyond China. The pavilions, along with the rest of the Summer Palace, were destroyed by English and French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War.
The photograph is the 346th of 449 photographs of Beijing and its surroundings in the album of Ivan Skušek Jr., purchased during his stay in Beijing (1914–1920). In the handwritten inventory of the album, the photograph is referred to as Yüen-Ming-Yüen: Total-Ansicht von Westen. (DZ, MV)