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

Thomson, J. 1837-1921.
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Selected images from this work

About this work


A young woman wearing a headscarf, seated in front of a plain backdrop. The same as Thomson's negative number 686, probably one half of a stereo pair. The same woman as in Thomson's negative number 675, but wearing a different headscarf

The backdrop here is particularly plain, setting off the simple headscarf and costume the woman is wearing. The sparkle in her eyes shows she is completely at ease. During his visit to Guangzhou and Hong Kong, the photographer John Thomson had encountered a number of boatwomen, and was greatly attracted by their natural beauty. According to him, they never used makeup and always dressed simply; they were the prettiest and most attractive-looking women he had came across in southern China.



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion : stereograph


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
This item is fragile and needs to be viewed in Conservation by appointment. If you would like to view this item please contact library@wellcome well in advance of your visit.

Publications note

China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 131 (reproduced)
Paisarn Piemmettawat, Siam through the lens of John Thomson 1865-66, including Angkor and coastal China, Bangkok: River Books, 2015, p. 137


Wellcome Library no. 19616i

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "686a"


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