British photographic history

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Exhibition: First Photographs of Hong Kong

As mentioned in an earlier blog, part of The Hong Kong Photo Festival will feature an exciting new exhibition entitled "First Photographs of Hong Kong". It will showcase treasured photo collections of Hong Kong in the 19th Century loaned from museums in Paris and London, including the first published stereo photograph of Hong Kong landscape by P. Rossier and a series of exceptional panoramic views of Hong Kong and its harbor, including two beautiful ones dated March 1860 by the famous war photographer, F. Beato.

Over one hundred 19th century photos of Hong Kong will be airlifted from France to be displayed in a 19th century building (Central Police Station Compound). This is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to offer the public a glimpse of Hong Kong in its olden days. This exhibition shall echo with the collective memory of the public, and show tourists worldwide Hong Kong’s developments over the past century.

With the support of the Development Bureau, the exhibition shall take place from 27th Nov to 27th Dec at the Central Police Station Compound, and details will be posted in the 'Events' section shortly.

Photo: Hong Kong 1858, P. Rossier

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Comment by Michael Wong on October 25, 2010 at 10:06
Details of this exhibition has now been posted here.

Curated by French scholar Dr. Régine Thieriez and Hong Kong photographic historian Dr. Edwin Lai, it will showcase 100 photographs of Hong Kong in 19th century. Lai comments "The photographs in this exhibition were taken in Hong Kong during the period from 1858 to 1875 which, as French curator Dr. Régine Thiriez aptly designates, were the formative years of Hong Kong photography. Although photography was introduced to Hong Kong more than a decade ago, the earliest activities had been limited, intermittent and generally insignificant. It was only in this period that photographers firmly established their footholds in Hong Kong, and more importantly, contributed to the development of a set of subjects and styles that have immensely influenced the photographic and visual representation of Hong Kong for many years to come."

The first stereo view Hong Kong landscape photograph taken by Swiss photographer, Pierre Rossier in 1858 is the highlight of this exhibition. This photograph is considered to be the first known Hong Kong photograph that we can now date with confidence. The exhibition will also showcase landscape and portrait works of renowned Western photographers John Thomson, Milton M. Miller and William Pryor Floyd during their stay in Hong Kong. Through the lenses of these photographers, they take us 140 years back when Hong Kong was in its 19th century and these photographs provide us the best materials to learn more about Hong Kong photography in its early days. Similarly, contemporary social landscape recorded in our daily snapshots as well as photos of "pseudo-models" might also be invaluable in reviewing the Hong Kong photography in future.

Photos: A Hong Kong Comprador 1861; Race Course 1860-1864

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