Photograph by John Thomson
A travelling knife-grinder working at a
one-wheeled handcart in the street, outside a brick house. He is
dressed in ragged clothes and looking round towards the camera. The
photograph reveals that his work-bench was also a cart, which he
pushed around little hutongs, looking for customers. The street
remained a place of fascination for John Thomson, and the 'street
life' of both Asia and London occupied a central place in his work.
As the capital of the Qing Empire, Beijing and its streets were
described by Thomson as "highly picturesque and interesting".
People formed an essential part of this picturesque charm,
particularly the traders and artisans who plied their skills and
wares along the streets.