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Canton (Guangzhou), Kwangtung province, China: a schoolboy. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.

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

Selected images from this work

About this work


A small schoolboy with a long queue (pig-tail), holding a book in his left hand, a board or slate in his right. Although the photographer John Thomson often quibbled about the old system of education in China, he was greatly impressed by the diligence and aptitude of Chinese schoolboys, and their capacity in acquiring knowledge. He also noted in different parts of the country there were attempts to modernize the education system, and some schools had adopted western learning. This boy looks straight ahead rigorously, as if he is looking into the future



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion : stereograph


Canton school boy Gow


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

John Thomson, Illustrations of China and its people, London, 1873-4, vol. I, pl. IV, fig. 5, "A Chinese school boy"
China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 129 (reproduced)
Paisarn Piemmettawat, Siam through the lens of John Thomson 1865-66, including Angkor and coastal China, Bangkok: River Books, 2015, p. 139

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "673"


Wellcome Library no. 19588i


  • English

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