THOMSON, JOHN. 1837-1921.
Illustrations of China and its People. A Series of Two Hundred Photographs, With Letterpress Description of the Places and People Represented. London: Sampson, Low, 1873-1874.
4 volumes. Folio (470 x 350 mm). 218 photographic views and portraits on 96 plates, interleaved with descriptive text. Original purple pictorial cloth, upper covers titled and blocked in gilt with the Confucian Temple at Peking, beveled edges, a.e.g. Pencil inventory numbers at upper corner of titles, vol 2 preliminaries lightly foxed, extremities of bindings rubbed and beveled edges a little bumped, minor bubbling of cloth to one corner of vol 4.
FIRST EDITION. "My design in the accompanying work is to present a series of pictures of China and its people, such as shall convey an accurate impression of the country I traversed as well as of the arts, usages, and manners which prevail in different provinces of the Empire. With this intention I made the camera my constant companion of my wanderings, and to it I am indebted for the faithful reproduction of the scenes I visited, and of the types of races which I came into contact" (Introduction).
"Between 1870 and 1872 [Thomson] undertook four distinct journeys, up the north branch of the Pearl River, up the River Min to the area around Foochow (Fuzhou), to Peking (Beijing), and finally up the great Yangtze (Yangzi) River. The photographs taken on these journeys form one of the most extensive photographic surveys of any region taken in the nineteenth century. The range and depth of his photographic vision mark Thomson out as one of the most important travel photographers" (ODNB). The present volumes, published on his return to London in 1872, established his reputation as a photographer, traveler and authority on China.
- Volumes neatly rebacked with original spines laid down.