Photograph by John Thomson
Unlike the majority of portraits made in the
19th century, the backdrop here is particularly plain, setting off
the simple headscarf and costume the woman is wearing. The sparkle
in her eyes shows she is completely at ease. During his visit to
Guangzhou and Hong Kong, Thomson had encountered a number of
boatwomen, and was greatly attracted by their natural beauty.
According to him, they never used makeup and always dressed simply;
they were the prettiest and most attractive-looking women he had
came across in southern China.