Hong Kong In The 1860s

The 19th century Scottish photographer John Thomson was one of the first to explore China and South East Asia in the 1860s.  He travelled extensively across China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Cambodia, documenting the people and places, both exotic and mundane.

His photographs, to modern eyes, have a dreamlike quality and show a world so far away.  Here are some of my favourites:

Manchu Wedding

Harbour in Macau

Stone warriors in Nanjing


The Wellcome Library in London now holds some 700 of Thomson’s original glass negatives in its collection, which have recently been lent to the Beijing World Art Museum for a major exhibition entitled China Through The Lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872.  I hope that the exhibition, when through touring China, will make its way to the UK.

For more images, check the BBC’s feature on Thomson and the 10 Chancery Lane Gallery.


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