Photo by Lai Afong, approx. 1875
Text on Flickr:
Possibly Robert Dunlop 1848 -1909 or John Mitchell Dunlop 1858-1939, sons of James Dunlop (see photo 1). Both Robert and John Mitchell worked as a ship's engineers in the Merchant Navy during the 1870s and 1880s, as did their youngest brother William, and like them, travelled extensively, as did Andrew (see photo 50) as a master mariner.
John Mitchell was our second ship's engineer. From his professional papers, we know that he served his apprenticeship at Howden Engineering Works in Scotland Street, Tradeston. This was a short distance from the Dunlops’ home and it must have been an important employer in the area at the time. The firm is still in existence as the Howden Group, and is now a major supplier of turbines to the energy sector.
Unusually, John Mitchell was awarded both his 2nd and 1st class engineering certificates overseas, in Singapore in 1881 and Hong Kong in 1882 respectively. He resubmitted an application for his 1st class certificate in Glasgow in 1885, which is how we know about these Asian qualifications. He worked for several years with the Blue Funnel Line.
John Mitchell eventually settled in Bangkok. He was appointed manager of the Bangkok Dock Co.Ltd in 1900 and a few years later set up in business as a consulting engineer. Ship’s passenger records show him returning to England from Siam with his family in 1932, and he died in Brentford, West London in 1939, leaving one daughter, Mary Maude Ewart.
Regarding the photograph itself:
"[During the 1870s] the Chinese photographer Lai Afong was establishing his reputation. [John] Thompson himself was impressed. ‘There is one Chinaman in Hong Kong, of the name Afong, who has exquisite taste and produces work that would enable him to make a living even in London.’ Afong assiduously and successfully cultivated contacts amongst the foreigners in Hong Kong. As a result, many of his photographs were brought back to the West; they survive today and stand testimony to an extraordinary talent in both landscape and portraiture. He was active from ca.1859 – 1900, and proprietor of the longest lived studio in the Colony"
Terry Bennett in the Encyclopaedia of C19th Photography, ed. John Hannavy (London: Routledge, 2005), p.294.
Studio: Afong, Hong Kong.
Carte de visite, c.1875