Heinz von Perckhammer's China as seen in the Macao brothels of 1922.

by 5T1V on August 1, 2016


 Heinz (Heinrich Josef Anton Alois) von Perckhammer (1895–1965) was a Tyrolean photographer best known for his Chinese nudes and Beijing street scenes.

Perckhammer was born in Merano, Austria-Hungary (now Italy) on 3 March 1895. In the First World War he served aboard the SMS Kaiserin Elisabeth during the Siege of Tsingtao and from 1917 to 1919 was a Japanese prisoner of war.

He remained in China for several years after his release. In 1928 two volumes of his photographs were published in Berlin: one of carefully posed Chinese nudes, many taken in Macao brothels, under the title Edle nacktheit in China (The Culture of the Nude in China), and one of Beijing street photography, as Peking. In 1929 he accompanied the airship LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin on its round-the-world tour, as a photojournalist for the Berlin illustrated weekly Die Woche.

By 1932 Perckhammer had established a studio in Berlin, where his work included nudes and fashion photography. In the late 1930s some of his images were used as propaganda for the Strength Through Joy movement, and during the Second World War he served as a war photographer attached to the Waffen-SS. His studio in Berlin was bombed out in 1942, and after the war he returned to Merano. He died, aged 69, on 3 February 1965.


Heinz von Perckhammer is one of the great unknown (italian born) german photographers. All his books are sought-after titles today.

In this book he published romantic soft focus nudes of Chinese girls that he took during his time in China and managed to smuggle back to Berlin. The National Socialists put this book on the Liste des schädlichen und unerwünschten Schrifttums (List of harmful and undesirable writings), one of the reasons just a few intact copies survived World War II. A contributing factor to it’s scarcity is the construction technique. Over time the tight silk band binding causes the pages to tear if you open the book too far. The printing quality is wonderful, as is his choice of paper. The pages are uncut and held together simply with a silk band. (Japanese stab binding)

“Pictures of nude women, setting aside the ugly caricatures of the “Spring pictures”of erotic scenes, simply do not exist in China. Therefore I believe, I have created something entirely new and of value.” Heinz von Perckhammer


All photographs circa 1920 - 1924