Albert Gervais (called Jen-I-Kouan in Chinese) was a French military doctor. He was born in Marseille on December 31, 1891 but his birth was officially declared the next day to gain a year. He died in Nice in 1979.
Taken between 1919 and 1925, his photographs document chiefly Sichuan province in western China. Gervais was based in Chengdu, where he worked in a hospital managed by French missionaries while teaching Western Medicine to Chinese students. Back in France, he published several novels and journal articles about his personal experience in China.
Since 2015, Albert Gervais’ granddaughter, the independent journalist Aurore Staiger, has been gathering and compiling information about her granddad. She runs a blog in which she gives a fictional voice to Albert Gervais himself, as if he was talking directly to the reader about his journey across China. This enables Staiger to shed light on specific documents from the archive (photographs, publications, letters…) in a more roving manner.
Photography Friday is a regular feature from Shanghaiist in association with Photography of China, Marine Cabos’s fantastic platform about photography and photographers in China.