Portrait of the Yaw Atwin Woon and a child - ROM2018_16380_60


Portrait of the Yaw Atwin Woon and a child

Maker: Clement Williams (28 December 1833-26 June 1879)
Medium:albumen print
Geography: Mandalay, Myanmar (Burma)
Date: 1861-1863
11.6 × 16.4 cm
Object number: 2016.66.8.42
Credit Line: Gift of David Strachey
Not on view

This image shows a portrait of a man and a child inside a decorated room. This man is Maung or Bo Hlaing (c.1830-1883) who held the titles Yaw Atwinwun, Magwe Myoza, and Shwepyi Mingyi, among others. He was a high ranking minister. He was dismissed from his offices soon after King Thibaw came into power in 1878. This photograph appears in an album of photographs, official documents, and letters. This photograph is an albumen contact print from a collodion glass plate negative.

Dr. Clement Williams (28 December 1833 – 26 June 1879) arrived in Burma in 1858 as an assistant surgeon with the 68th Light Infantry. After mastering the Burmese language, he settled in Mandalay by mid-1861 and gained the confidence of King Mindon. In 1863, he was appointed Britain’s first political agent in Upper Burma. That same year he led an expedition up the Irrawaddy River to Bhamo, later publishing an account of his travels, Through Burma to Western China. After quitting the army in 1865, he worked briefly for the newly established Irrawaddy Flotilla Company before going into business for himself as a buying agent for the king. In 1879, en route between Burma to England, Williams died of typhoid outside Florence. Like many doctors familiar with working with chemicals. Clement Williams was an early amateur photographer, as recounted in his book. Until 2017, however, there were no images positively attributed to him. Thanks to gifts from his nephew, Louis Allan Goss (1846-1933), and Goss’s heirs, they now are in the collections of the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) in Cambridge, UK, and the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada.

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