"In the 29 September 1860 issue of the French periodical L’Illustration, a group of 11 engravings after photographs by Georges de Saint-Priest (1835-1898) were included. The accompanying article was short on detail. The aristocrat Saint-Priest had Russian family connections and travelled to Beijing on a visit to the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission established there since the 18th century. They were the only foreigners allowed to live in the capital, and presumably, Saint-Priest was posing as a Russian. Very little is known about Saint-Priest, and I was pleased to recently find a Disderi & Co. carte de visite portrait of the Frenchman, dated 1858.
Incidentally, I think it most likely that the Russians at the Ecclesiastical Mission, who included scientists and artists, took photographs perhaps some years before Saint-Priest used his camera. The bearded Russian artist, Lev Stepanovich Igorev (1822–1893), is [likely] the photographer of a group of forty-three photographs in the London Missionary Society archives (SOAS, Library, archives, CWM/LMS/15/10/5/079). I hope that evidence of this kind of early Russian photography in Beijing will surface from Russian archives."
The 43 photographs at the SOAS are here.
Lev Stepanovich Igorev // Лев Степанович Игорев, автопортрет около 1862 года.