Thomson's China photographs and the Wellcome Library

2 archive photos of a man in traditional Chinese costume painting at an easel

A Chinese portrait artist. Hong Kong 1869.
© The Wellcome Library, London

Thomson believed that through photography;

"the explorer may add not only to the interest, but to the permanent value of his work".

He was eager to promote public knowledge about China. He lectured, wrote books and became known as 'China' Thomson.

In 1920 Thomson decided to sell his 650 glass negatives, including those of China, to the Wellcome Historical Medical Museum, but he died before he could. Eventually Henry Solomon Wellcome bought them from Thomson's family for the Wellcome
in London, where they remain today.

Chinese translation

A pdf of the Chinese text from the exhibition panel about Thomson's photographs and the Wellcome Library is also available to download:

Chinese translation