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John Thomson or A. Fong? A Street in Canton

Does anyone know the true photographer of this image? I've seen it variously attributed to Thomson and A. Fong.  Published in "A New History of Photography" Edited by Michel Frizot (Page 149) as "attributed to Fong".

My copy has a letterpress description below… and is listed as No. 321, so obviously part of a series, book, or album, but I can find no information about this.

Thanks in advance for any help!


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Comment by Gael Newton on June 15, 2014 at 6:08

Terry can correct me but Afong  seemed to excel at views and the studio at studio portraits ( although many from  later than his time) but street photography less so, whereas Thomson's great impulse was to shoot outdoors and his shots of the challenging darkness narrow confines and crowded fast moving passersby tend to be better than the one in the Afong series.

Comment by David McGreevy on June 10, 2014 at 10:05

Thank you Terry! 

Comment by Terry Bennett on June 10, 2014 at 9:48


The photographer is Lai Fong (Afong Studio). Lai was the most prolific of the nineteenth-century photographers in China. He often captioned his prints (as with yours) and/or numbered them on the reverse and if you consult his list of stock numbers (given in my book History of Photography in China: Chinese Photographers) you will find the number 321 fits in neatly with his Canton portfolio.  Terry Bennett

Comment by Michael Wong on June 7, 2014 at 10:52

Steve's right! I'm no expert, but I think it could be due to the fact that Thomson also took a similar street scene (Physic Street), and authors sometimes tend to accidentally mix the two photos, and hence attribute them incorrectly???

Comment by Steven Evans on June 6, 2014 at 23:45

Hi David: See this:

An ink stamp on back identifies A. Fong. Best, Steven Evans.

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