A Junk in Guangzhou harbour in 1869-71. According to Thomson the vessel shown here ‘is a fine type of its class and has in her model something of the foreign ship, though retaining quite enough of the old Chinese build to soothe the prejudices of the nation.’

Remarkable images taken by Scottish photographer John Thomson in China, Siam, (Thailand) and Cambodia in the nineteenth century are to be exhibited for the first time.

The images are from newly discovered negatives held at the Wellcome Library in London and cover a 10-year period from 1862 to 1872 when Thomson traveled around the three countries. In Siam, as Thailand was then known, Thomson photographed King Mongkut Rama IV, his royal family and entourage, the Chao Phraya River, temples, monks, dancers and musicians.

In Cambodia, Thomson was the first photographer to visit Angkor Wat, one of the most important sites of ancient architecture in the world. Between 1868 and 1872, Thomson went to Beijing, Fujian and Guangdong in China, traveling down both the Yangtse and Min rivers, photographing landscapes, people, architecture, domestic and street scenes.

His photos will be shown from April 13 to June 23 at the Brunei Gallery SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London.

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