Oei Tiong Ham (1866–1924) /on back: “Oei Tiong Ham 30–9–1887”

Oei Tiong Ham (1866–1924) was arguably the most influential Peranakan in Southeast Asia in the late 19th and early 20th century. Born in Semarang, he helmed Kian Gwan, a diversified multinational conglomerate involved in opium, sugar, shipping, and banking, among other industries in the region. He was also a great philanthropist. Late in life when he lived in Singapore, he supported many causes, including donating $10,000 towards the building of the Tao Nan School on Armenian Street, current home of the Peranakan Museum. Oei Tiong Ham, who was 21 years old when this photograph was taken. He is dressed in Western fashion and poses in a nonchalant, informal manner, most probably under the direction of the photographer. This is probably one of the earliest images of a Peranakan in Western dress. R Schütz established his studio in Semarang in 1884, having taken over the premises of another photographer. Not much is known about him, apart from the fact that he had operated the famous atelier founded by the pioneering photographer Isidore van Kinsbergen in Batavia before opening his own studio, which remained in business until the 1920s.