SOAS University of London

China and Siam: Through the Lens of John Thomson

An old Cantonese Woman, Guangzhou, Guangdong © from The Wellcome Library, London
Curated by Betty Yao and Narisa Chakrabongse

Date: 13 April 2018Time: 10:30 AM

Finishes: 23 June 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: Exhibition Rooms

Type of Event: Exhibition

First London exhibition devoted to the Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921) and his photography in Asia will be shown from 12 April - 22 June 2018 at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS. Thomson’s photography of China, Siam (Thailand) and Cambodia was widely praised by his peers and continues to enthuse new audiences today. Widely credited as one of the greatest travel photographers and precursor to photojournalism, Thomson was the first photographer to record Angkor Wat and these striking images are included in the exhibition. The images are from newly discovered negatives held at the Wellcome Library, London.

John Thomson (1837–1921) was a Scottish photographer and writer who set off for Asia in 1862. 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 nineteenth century. The range, depth and aesthetic quality of John Thomson’s vision mark him out as one of the most important travel photographers whose influence is still felt today.