Captured Shadows:
The Photographic Journeys of John Thomson 1837-1921

Photograph by John ThomsonThe Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921) ranks as one of the most influential camera artists of the 19th century. As the first major exhibition in Europe to be devoted to his life and work, Captured Shadows exhibited some of Thomson's most accomplished photographs, and showed his development as a photographic artist, writer and traveller, in South-East Asia and China during the 1860s and 1870s. The exhibition also examined his pioneering use of photography as a means of social documentation on the streets of major cities of the Far East, and looked in particular at the influential photographs of the poorest of the street people in Victorian London.

Photograph by John ThomsonThe exhibition toured to a number of venues around the UK and Europe between November 1997 and October 1999. They included The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock (Nov-Dec 1997); the National Library of Wales (Mar-June 1998); the Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock (July-Oct 1998); the Museum of Ethnology, Rotterdam (Nov 1998-Feb 1999); the Museum of Photography, Antwerp (Mar-Apr 1999); and the Photokunst Museum, Odense (Aug-Oct 1999).

The exhibition was accompanied by a richly-illustrated book, published by The Stationery Office in association with the National Library of Scotland, which re-evaluates Thomson's contribution to photography and presents new research into his life.

Text and reproductions © National Library of Scotland