|There are many interesting details to this photograph, and while we can for now only speculate as to what those details might mean, they might also provide clues to identifying the two men. |
For example, the Chinese man wears well-tailored clothes, possibly silk, and he has very long fingernails, so clearly he was not a worker. So was he a Chinese government official, perhaps an ambassador? A student come to study at an American university? A wealthy merchant?
The white man also wears an elegant and expensive suit. Why did he pose with the Chinese man? Was he the escort to the visitor? Did he bring his guest to have this daguerreotype made to commemorate an event? He seems relatively relaxed, and looks into the camera with an almost familiar gaze, as if he has done this often before. The Chinese man, by contrast, seems stiff and formal, and does not engage the viewer at all; perhaps this was his first time having a photograph taken .