Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Clara Telge (part IV): starting business in China and an account of the events shortly before.

I am beginning to understand Clara Telge could well be one of the finest rediscovered ("retrouvé") artists among my private collection of mostly forgotten German woman artists. Today in this Part IV I share some more interesting findings of my research. Many small parts had to come deep from the Internet and puzzling them together is creating a truly fascinating story. 

The earliest mentioning of Clara's father Bernard Telge (of who I did not find any specifics in Hamburg yet other then I was able to confirm he had a merchant  brother Georg Jr. Telge and his family). I found Telges presence in Yokohama Japan in 1860 as "special agent" of the Hamburg trading firm of Pustau (more later) where he had been the subject of international diplomatic problems and worries which had to do with his "rude and uncivilized behavior" in Yokohama (in the late 1850's !). It has to be said diplomats had in overall rather negative view on all European traders in the Orient. It was reported Telge had "violated" hunting regulations...... Seeing the later succes of his businesses in China he either changed his attitude considerably or one can doubt the "tone" of the written reports.  Maybe the truth lies in the middle.   

Any way, the "problems, concerns and worries" he'd caused were discussed as far away as in London parliament and were also recorded by the leader of the German East-Asia expedition diplomat Friedrich Albrecht Baron zu Eulenburg (1815-1881) who, returned from his expedition to Japan, was to serve as Prussian minister of the Interior (1862-1878) 

Since the 16th  and 17th centuries several European countries traded with China and Japan but because the Japanese had enough of the constant attempts to convert Japan to Christianity it had limited foreign trading countries to the Dutch and Chinese.

America after annexing California had gained access to the Pacific and seeking trade and coal (bunker) harbors to the West had send two semi military expeditions to Japan to, if necessary with the use of military force, make Japan to open the island to trading. In the second Perry expedition of 1854/55 German/American artist William (Wilhelm) Heine (1827-1885) who was working in the Americas was assigned to the staff as an artist drawer.

Wilhelm Heine:  The second Perry expedition 1855 anchored in Yokohama 
How the Japanese saw the American and Europeans traders and settlers was also depicted in several woodblock prints. Prints like this were first seen publicly in the Paris World Exhibitions only one or two decades later starting European woodblock printmaking at the end of the 19th century.

On his return to Germany in the late 1850's Wilhelm Heine with his American expedition expertise was able to persuade the Prussian government to send a German-Prussian expedition claiming and securing "their share" of future business and to avoid monopoly by America and other trading countries. Thus the Prussian Eulenberg expedition was set up. Again the artist Wilhelm Heine travelled to Japan, China and Siam but now at the service of his native Germany.

The German ships of the 1859 East Asia Expedition.
On arrival one ship with its entire crew was lost in a typhoon.
A decade  before the first private trading mission from Germany to China ever was organized by Hamburg businessman Carl von Pustau (1820-1879). The operation was co-financed by Hamburg wealthiest banker Solomon Heine (1767-1844). He was the uncle, and benefactor, of Germans greatest Poet: Heinrich Heine (1797-1856). It was this firm that had send Bernard Telge as "special agent" from Hamburg to Japan probably in the late 1850s. 

Shanghai 1860: "the Bund" location of the foreign trading concessions.  
It was said Telge more or less fled from Japan to China in 1860, his position in Japan grown intolerable and impossible. Diplomats described the foreign traders in Yokohama as "scum of the earth". In Shanghai things probably came to rest and obviously Bernard Telge soon started for himself as the Telge (and later Telge & Schroeter) Company is known since then. 

Shanghai: the Bund
He would build an office at "the Bund" a strip of land, a concession along river Huangpu where foreign countries were allowed to establish businesses (and living communities, clubs, schools, hospitals etc..): Shanghai's freeport after the Chinese emperor signed and ratified the treaty in 1860. Bernard Telge would lead one of the most successful international businesses, the Shanghai-Hamburg import & export, contracting, mining and building & construction firm for the next 40 years.
Shanghai: the firm of Bernard Telge (& Schroeter) in the late 19th century 
Telge & Schroeter: possibly Bernard Telge and Hermann Schroeter)  

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

More to follow soon. Readers and passers-by are invited to send all they might know about Clara Telge and her Hamburg (and possibly Berlin) relatives in an attempt to create a first short biography of Clara Telge.    

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