Art.—San Francisco is a progresive [sic] city. Chinese doctors have long been an established and preferred class, a newspaper printed in the Chinese language is announced, and we see by a city cotemporary [sic] that “Lai Yong,” certainly not an Italian or French name, has opened a studio, for the purpose of practicing his profession as a portrait painter. “Lai Yong” may not be much of an artist, but he will certainly draw well in a city which rejoices in sensations and Celestials.
The San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 1877, said
Lai Yung [sic], our only Mongolian artist, is painting “heep plictures Melican man,” and charging “Melican man’s” price for the same. His principle success is in portraits.
Lai Yong was one of five Chinese men who wrote a petition that was translated and read by Reverend Otis Gibson at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting on June 2, 1873. The text of the petition was printed the following day in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin and, on June 7, in the Sacramento Daily Union. In both papers, Lai Yong’s name was misspelled “Lai Tong”. Excerpts of the petition were published in The New York Times, June 17, 1873. Reverend Gibson included a revised version of the petition in his 1877 book, The Chinese in America. One of the signatories of the petition was Lai Foon who may have been related to Lai Yong.
The 1876 and 1880 (below) San Francisco city directories said “Lai Yong & Brother.” It’s not known how Lai Yong’s brother assisted him at the studio.