King Rama IV and his children. (All photos Unseen Siam – Early Photography 1860-1910)

As soon as you hear the word Siam, images of Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in the King and I spring to mind.

Many pictures of Siam are currently owned and kept by foreigners abroad and have never been shown in Thailand, until now. A total of 150 rare photographs, developed from foreign collectors and institutes’ original photo prints and collodion, record the development of Siam and are on view at “Unseen Siam — Early Photography 1860-1910” at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC). Hosted by the centre and River Books, the show runs until Nov 7.

The two-month exhibition showcases portraits of royals, commoners and foreigners in Siam, and photos of the Siamese ways of life, architecture, performance art, royal ceremonies and major incidents during the reigns of King Rama IV and King Rama V. These photos have been selected from 700 photos shown in Joachim K. Bautze’s book Unseen Siam — Early Photography 1860-1910. Both the exhibition and the 364-page book were launched in September .

The show is curated by River Books CEO MR Narisa Chakrabongse and old-photo collector Paisarn Piammattawat, who also organised last year’s popular photo exhibition “Siam Through The Lens Of John Thomson 1865-66”.

Many of the photos are being shown for the first time and has already been pointed out, it would be excellent if the exhibition could be staged in other parts of the country, other than the capital.

Cover of the book.


King Rama V



King Rama V opening the Thonburi-Phetchaburi railway in 1899.


King Rama V’s Belgian doctor with his family and friends.

These are just a few of the wonderful photographs on display , depicting life in Thailand at the turn of the century. How times have changed in this beautiful country. Or have they??


(With thanks to the Bangkok Post and River Books)


By Juninho