China And Siam: Through The Lens Of John Thomson

  John Thomson with two Manchu soldiers, Xiamen, Fujian (1871) / The Wellcome Library, London.

John Thomson with two Manchu soldiers, Xiamen, Fujian (1871) / The Wellcome Library, London.

In a first for London, the capital’s Brunei Gallery is currently staging an exhibition devoted to the Scottish photographer John Thomson and his work in Asia. One of the 19th century’s greatest photographers, and a pioneer of photojournalism, ‘China and Siam: Through the Lens of John Thomson’ covers a decade of Thomson’s photographic work, and follows an acclaimed international exhibition seen by over 920,000 visitors worldwide.

  A Manchu Bride, Beijing (1871 – 72) / The Wellcome Library, London. 

A Manchu Bride, Beijing (1871 – 72) / The Wellcome Library, London. 

John Thomson set off for Asia in 1862, and over the next ten years he undertook numerous journeys photographing countries including Siam, Cambodia and various provinces of China. Photographs from these journeys form one of the most extensive records of any region taken in the 19th century, and the range, depth and aesthetic quality of his vision mark him out as one of the most important travel photographers whose influence is still felt today.

  H.M. King Mongkut, King Rama IV / Bangkok (1865) / The Wellcome Library, London.

H.M. King Mongkut, King Rama IV / Bangkok (1865) / The Wellcome Library, London.

Curated by Betty Yao and Narisa Chakrabongse from the renowned collection of glass negatives at London’s Wellcome Library, the exhibition runs until 23rd June. The Brunei Gallery, located on Russell Square, is part of the campus of the SOAS University of London, the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East, and is dedicated to showcasing contemporary and historical exhibitions from these regions. The space is also part of Museum Mile, 13 of London's most extraordinary museums and galleries across an area stretching from King's Cross to the River Thames.

  An old Cantonese Woman, Guangzhou, Guangdong (1868–70) / The Wellcome Library, London.

An old Cantonese Woman, Guangzhou, Guangdong (1868–70) / The Wellcome Library, London.