Lai Afong Two Chinese Compradors
Medium Albumen print
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1870s Print Date 1870s
Dimensions 8 x 8-5/8 in. (203 x 219 mm)
Photo Country China
Photographer Country China
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank comprador Lo Yewkee (Lo Pak Sheung), shown on the right, represented the bank from 1865 until his death in 1877.
Lai Afong ??? (c.1839-1890)–also called Lai Fong–was perhaps one of the most famous and successful Chinese commercial photographer and proprietor of the longest lived photographic studio in 19th-century Hong Kong. From its opening in 1859 to around the 1940s, Afong and his studio created a rare and large body of photographs. Subject matters range from portraits (very popular among wealthy Chinese audience), topographic views (such as cityscapes or picturesque scenes), to social life pictures.
Lai's work and person were praised by John Thomson, a Scottish photographer working in China at the time, in Thomson's book The Straits of Malacca, Indo-China, and China. Lai's experience totally originated into the Western community, but it still reveals the same sensibility of the literati painting which embodied both learned references to the styles of ancient masters and the inner spirit of the artist. According to the verso of many of his carte-de-visite works, he was photographer to Sir Arthur Kennedy KCB and Grand Duke Alexis.
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