Through the lens of John Thomson: Hong Kong & China, 1868-1872

手執折扇並站在屏風前的貴婦 廣東廣州 1869-1871年

Through the Lens of John Thomson: Hong Kong and Coastal China, 1868-1872 – photography exhibition will be held from 23 November 2013 to 16 February 2014 at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (“HKMM”), Central Ferry Pier No.8. 

The images in this exhibition were taken by Scottish photographer John Thomson, who opened a studio in Queen’s Road Central in 1868. During the next four years he made several extensive journeys to China photographing a wide range of subjects.  John Thomson was one of the most influential photographers of his time and a pioneer of photo journalism.  This exhibition focuses on Thomson’s photographs of Hong Kong and Coastal China, particularly South China.

Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Sedan chairs waiting for client Hong Kong 1868–71 待客的轎夫 – 香港 1868-1871年

The HKMM is bringing these photographs, reproduced from the original glass negatives in the Wellcome Library’s collection in London, back to Hong Kong for the first time in nearly 150 years. In this exhibition the 22 images of Hong Kong are being shown together for the first time.

Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
A lady from the loacl well-to-do family Guangzhou, Guangdong  富家小姐 廣東廣州 1869-70年

Thomson’s work reflects his remarkable talent for capturing the essence of China in the process of change.  He was interested in the human aspects of life in China and photographed people, especially women and their costumes and hairstyles which was very unusual at the time, as well as street scenes, landscapes and buildings. 

Thomson travelled with a portable darkroom tent and a great deal of heavy equipment; these were the early days of photography when negatives were made on large glass plates using chemicals.  His journeys took enormous perseverance and energy and it is therefore all the more remarkable that he made photographs of such beauty, sensitivity and quality.

Fishtail Rock (To Kwa Wan Island or Hoi Sham Island) off To Kwa Wan, Kowloon Hong Kong 九龍土瓜灣 開海心島上的魚尾石 香港 1869-71年
Fishtail Rock (To Kwa Wan Island or Hoi Sham Island) off To Kwa Wan, Kowloon Hong Kong 九龍土瓜灣 開海心島上的魚尾石 香港 1869-71年 Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

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