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China: Through the Lens of John Thomson (1868-1872)

Slideshow Shim

China: Through the Lens of John Thomson (1868 – 1872)

Friday 2 November 2018 – Sunday 2 June 2019


From 1868 – 1872, legendary photographer, John Thomson (1835 -1921) travelled extensively through China and produced an extraordinary record of the country, its landscapes and its people.

The beauty and sensitivity of his work established him as a pioneer of photo-journalism and one of the most influential photographers of his generation.

His achievement is all the more remarkable given the early stage of photography required travelling through difficult terrains with large cameras, glass plates and heavy equipment.

As a foreigner, Thomson’s ability to gain access to photograph women was particularly remarkable.  Whether photographing the rich and famous or people in the streets going about their everyday business, Thomson’s desire was to present a faithful account of the people he encountered.

See iconic photographs of China reproduced on a large, sometimes life-size, scale accompanied by objects collected by Merton and Annie Russell-Cotes on their visit to China only a decade later.


Images courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London.

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  • The Wellcome Collection
  • John Thomson
  • Mr Yang smaller

02nd November 18 - 02nd June 19

Additional Information

Entrance to this exhibition is included in our admission price.

We are seeking business sponsors to support this exhibition. With packages at £500 and £2500, could you be our perfect partner? Benefits include Curator-led tours, lunch in the historic house, the opportunity to be seen by 25,000 visitors, and more.

Contact us at russellcotes@bournemouth.gov.uk for more information.