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Canton, Kwangtung (Guangdong) province, China: an old man and a boy. Photograph by John Thomson, 1869.

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

Selected images from this work

About this work


An old man, seated, resting his right arm on a table, which also supports a tea-cup. A young boy standing, holding the left arm of the chair. This photograph shows how the photographer John Thomson often had to conform to the established rules of Chinese portraiture. The sitter is posed in the centre, facing the camera, with a child on one side and a tea-table on the other. The face of the old man and the boy remain expressionless: in the Chinese tradition, the photo is a record of the person rather than that of the personality. This rigid style was quite contrary to Thomson's own tradition of portraiture, in which the subject often appears more human and vivid, and the backdrop more interesting



Physical description

1 photograph : glass photonegative, wet collodion ; glass approximately 30.5 x 25.5 cm (12 x 10 in.)


Mandarin and son, China. 20


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

China through the lens of John Thomson, 1868-1872, Beijing: Beijing World Art Museum, 2009, p. 126 (reproduced)

Lettering note

Bears Thomson's negative number: "648"


Wellcome Library no. 19542i


  • English

Where to find it

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