Photograph by John Thomson
'Zhongli Yamen', or the Office for Foreign
Affairs, was set up in 1861 to deal with international relations
and state-run modernisation projects. Mao Changxi was one of the
three Chinese ministers appointed to this Office, the other three
being Manchu. A native of Henan, Mao entered government service
through imperial exams and rose to government office of the highest
rank after his success in suppressing the Taiping northern army.
This is one of the very few portraits of Chinese officials taken by
Thomson in which the sitter looks away from the camera.