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Canton, Kwangtung (Guangdong) province, China: a young woman. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.

  • Thomson, J. (John), 1837-1921.
  • Pictures

Selected images from this work

About this work


A young woman, wearing a fine silk robe, holding an open decorated fan in her right hand, standing before a folding screen with painted decoration of birds and foliage. Both the fan and screen are in the chinoiserie style: since the 18th century, a large number of these types of Chinese-style objects had been produced in the Pearl River Delta area exclusively for the European market. This woman has a slight 'non-Chinese' look about her. As noted by Thomson, some of the Chinese he encountered in this part of China had pale skins, finely formed features and large lustrous eyes, which suggested they might not be of 'purely Chinese blood'



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion


Canton lady


This is one of a collection of original glass negatives made by John Thomson. The negatives, made between 1868 and 1872, were purchased from Thomson by Sir Henry Wellcome in 1921

References note

Paisarn Piemmettawat, Siam through the lens of John Thomson 1865-66, including Angkor and coastal China, Bangkok: River Books, 2015, p. 136
China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 125 (reproduced)

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "682"


Wellcome Library no. 19606i


  • English

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