This exhibition introduces viewers to the work of Lai Fong, arguably the most ambitious and successful photographer of nineteenth-century China. Lai established his studio in Hong Kong around 1870, and over the next twenty years built a towering reputation on his illustrious clientele, impressive product range, and a catalogue of views of his rapidly changing country “larger, choicer, and more complete . . . than any other in the Empire.” Managed by his son and daughter-in-law after his death, his studio persisted into the 1940s, an instance of remarkable longevity in a famously difficult field.
A concurrent exhibition, Lai Fong and Thomas Child: Photographs of Late Qing Dynasty Chinese Street Life, will be on view at Cornell’s Carl A. Kroch Library from February 7 to April 17, 2020.