John Thomson is one of 19th century’s greatest photographers, a pioneer of photojournalism. This exhibition is curated from the renowned collection of glass negatives at the Wellcome Library, London.

First London exhibition of China and Siam: Through the Lens of John Thomson covering a decade of Thomson’s photographic work in Asia.

This follows an acclaimed international exhibition tour to 20 museums and seen by over 920,000 visitors worldwide.

The London exhibition will be at the Brunei Gallery|SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1H 0XG, near Russell Square, from 13 April to 23 June 2018.


Public Lectures

Michael Wood lecture Thursday 17 May, 6pm

The Chinese photographs of John Thomson (1837-1921)

Khalili Lecture Theatre at SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Historian and film maker Michael Wood  reflects on Thomson’s amazing and moving images, the greatest photographic record of the people of Late Qing dynasty China. and the role they played in presenting daily life in China to the Victorian public.



Richard Ovenden lecture Thursday 14 June, 6pm

John Thomson: Master Photographer

DLT Lecture Theatre at SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Richard Ovenden is Bodley’s Librarian, University of Oxford. His book John Thomson (1837 – 1921) Photographer, published two decades ago, remains one of the most authoritative works on John Thomson.

The lecture will explore the life and work of one of the greatest innovators in the history of the photography. John Thomson was the first to photograph the ruins of Angkor Wat, the first Western photographer to travel extensively in the interior of China, and the first photojournalist to document the lives of everyday people on the streets of Victorian London. His life and work will be set in context and will focus on the major contributions he made to the establishment of photography as one of the great modern means of communication.



Study Day 7 June

John Thomson:  Reframing materials, images and archives


Supported by:

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