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Posted on Tuesday March 22, 2016

Updated on Monday November 6, 2023

John Thomas Photographic Collection

The land and people of Wales through the lens of photographer John Thomas (1838-1905). This digital collection offers a selection of over four hundred photographs from the John Thomas collection taken from the 1860s onwards.
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John Thomas was born in West Wales and worked as a photographer, specialising in landscape images of Wales and portraits of notable Welsh people, particularly church and chapel ministers. John Thomas started off selling cartes des visite of Welsh celebrities of the day. He also took photographs of ordinary people, often at their place of work.

He is best remembered today for his topographical views. John Thomas challenged the work of photographers such as Francis Frith and James Valentine who portrayed only the scenic beauty of Wales. He learnt the rudiments of photography and in 1863 he began taking photographs of the famous by inviting a number of well-known preachers to sit for their portraits. The enterprise was a success and by 1867 he was confident enough to establish his own photographic business, The Cambrian Gallery.

He worked as a photographer for about forty years, and during that time he travelled widely in the north, mid and south Wales taking photographs of landscapes as well as people.

Provided by: National Library of Wales