Afong Lai

The Bankers' Glen, Yuen-foo River (1869 or 1870)

About this artwork

This picture was taken outside the city of Foochow in the south of China near the coast. It shows members of the British community of bankers, merchants and consular officials who lived in the region, enjoying a day out. The spot was, in fact, named after them. The western figures at the heart of this image, including the British Consul and his wife, appear tiny in this magnificent setting. It may be that the photographer was trying to emphasise the splendour of the mountain rocks, which, according to the Chinese, embody the sacred aspect of the landscape.

Afong Lai

Afong Lai

Afong Lai was based at a commercial studio in Hong Kong from 1859, but took an extensive series of pictures around the area of Foochow (mainland China) in 1869 and 1870. The Scottish photographer, John Thomson, whose Hong Kong studio was established later in the same street as Afong Lai, said he was 'a plump and good-natured son of Han' and 'a man of exquisite taste'.