Event Detail


A Gallery Tour and Talk: Lai Afong: The Most Significant HK Photographer of the 19th Century

Jonathan Wattis
Wednesday, 11 Jul 2018
Session 1 : Drinks Reception 5.30pm; Talk 6.00pm Session 2: Drinks Reception 7.30pm; Talk 8.00pm
Wattis Fine Art, 20 Hollywood Road, 2/F, Central
Registration method: Pre-payment. Please scroll down.
In a stunning display of 19th century photographs of Hong Kong, Macao and Canton, the work of renowned photographer Lai Afong captures the mystery and dynamism of the region’s deep history. The Wattis Fine Art Gallery contains original albumen prints, all developed within the timeframe of 1860-1890. In this tour and talk, Gallery owner Jonathan Wattis discusses the cultural significance of the images and the background history of the period.

Born in 1838 in Foshan, China, Lai Afong was a Hong Kong-based photographer who established Afong Studio, one of the first photographic studios to exist in Hong Kong.  The studio was active from 1859 through 1940 and was run by his son from 1890.  Lai Afong’s subject matters included portraits, landscapes, cityscapes and images of daily life. 

Though many of his experiences were rooted in the Western community, Mr Lai’s works also embodied learned references to the style of ancient artistic masters.  Mr Lai is regarded as the most significant Chinese photographer of the 19th century, with Sir Arthur Kennedy KCB and Grand Duke Alexis hiring him as their personal photographer. 

Originally from the United Kingdom, Jonathan Wattis first set up his business in Hong Kong in 1986 having gained experience from working in the international art and antique market at Christie’s in London.  He deals in antique prints, photographs, 19th and 20th century paintings, maps and books of East Asia.  His speciality is early views of Hong Kong, Macau, Canton and the Pearl River.  Mr Wattis researches, collects antiques and holds regular exhibitions focusing on the historical development of cities and countries of the Far East.

Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for RGS Members and HK$200 for guests and others including a glass of red or white wine.

Session 1 Jonathan Wattis talk

Please note this talk has now changed back into one session. The complimentary drinks reception is 6.30 pm and the talk starts at 7.30pm. For registration, please visit

Session 2 Jonathan Wattis talk

The drinks reception starts at 7.30pm and the talk begins at 8.00pm. Please kindly attend the session that you have signed up. No swapping of the session unless it is agreed with the RGS office in advance. Thank you!
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