As far as travel souvenirs go, few can beat John Thomson’s leather-bound photo album Foochow and the River Min. From 1870 to 1871, the Scottish-born photographer traveled 160 miles up the River Min to document the area in and around the city of Fuzhou (Foochow), an important center of international trade and one of the most picturesque provinces in China. Thomson sold his book by advance subscription to the foreign residents of Fuzhou — tea planters, merchants, missionaries and government officials — who wanted a way to share their experiences with friends and family back home.Luo Dan's photographs sound interesting because he evidently used the same complicated photographic process (apologies to my late father for my complete ignorance about the history of photography) to photograph members of the Lisu and Nu ethnicities in southwestern China. So his pictures look very old even though they're not. (You can see an example on this page.)
Fewer than 10 of the original 46 copies of this album survived, and the Peabody Essex Museum is privileged to own two of them. A Lasting Memento: John Thomson’s Photographs Along the River Min presents this rare collection of photographs for the first time at PEM. The exhibition also features 10 works by contemporary Chinese photographer Luo Dan.
Guess I'll have to find some time to go up to Salem before May 17 to have a look!