JOHN THOMSON - WINDOW TO THE EAST
John Thomson (1837-1921) was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was one of the most important photographers in the 19th century and also a topographer, explorer and writer. As one of the earliest Western photographers travelling to the Far East, Thomson faithfully recorded what he saw of the Eastern world in the 19th century through his lens. His photographic works have become the most important social and cultural records and made Thomson one of the pioneers of documentary photography.
The 19th century is a period of history marked with frequent exchanges and interactions between West and East. It is also a period full of surprises, excitement and shocks amidst cultural collisions. Each photograph taken by Thomson illustrates how a Westerner back then perceived and interpreted the mysterious Oriental world.
Demonstrating his keen observations and unique interpretations of social and geographic characteristics of a place, Thomson’s photographs mix the different aesthetics of Western and Eastern portraits, while combining the perspective and composition in Eastern landscape paintings. On his glass plate negatives, Thomson captured micro specimens of the tranquillity and profoundness of the Oriental world cultivated over thousands of years.
This exhibition is the most comprehensive of its kind showcasing 68 photographic works by Thomson of Formosa, China and South-east Asia, allowing viewers to travel back in time and experience the unique cultural and social facets of 19th century Asia.
Museo di Antropologia,
13 February - 24 May 2015