British photographic history

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My mother's father was in the Indian Civil Service, and both sides of her family had long connections with India.  After my parents' deaths, I found in a drawer an album containing about 20 albumen prints of ruins from the Indian Mutiny in Lucknow and Cawnpore, with pencilled captions above or below each of them in a large, old-fashioned hand.  From a note on one of the pages, it looks as if the album was put together in 1894.  A number of these prints are remarkably similar to photographs taken by Felice Beato - exactly the same scene, taken from exactly the same angle.  The only difference is that where Beato has included some human figures, they do not appear at all on my prints.  On close examination, however, there is what looks like a slight blur or a dark patch on my version in the place where the figures appear in the Beato print; this is the case in every one of those of my prints which are otherwise identical to a Beato photograph.  Can anyone explain this?  Was it deliberate, or the result of an error in the printing process?  Could the prints have been rejects, because the people moved?  I would be very grateful for any suggestions.

Charles Priestley

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Greetings. These are quite interesting. I wonder if they may have been produced from retouched copy negatives. Note that the images are also cropped significantly. I have no idea why the figures were removed. I'll be interested to see what others have to say.....

Many thanks for a very prompt response.  Yes, they have been cropped - the Neill's Gate one, for example, substantially.  Let's see if others can come up with any ideas.  Best wishes, Charles

Might be worth contacting Sean Willcock @ Birkbeck.

s.willcock@bbk.ac.uk

Many people find the term 'Indian Mutiny' offensive as they do not consider that you can mutiny in your own country. Indian Rebellion is a more accepted term.

Many thanks for this suggestion.  I'll give him a try.

RJA said:

Might be worth contacting Sean Willcock @ Birkbeck.

s.willcock@bbk.ac.uk

If you really cannot mutiny in your own country, how on earth do we classify the Spithead and Nore mutinies in 1797, the French Army mutinies in 1917 and countless mutinies throughout history and throughout the world?  A mutiny is simply, by definition,  a military revolt.  This particular military revolt was limited to the Bengal Army; large numbers of Indian troops (and the Sikhs in particular) remained true to their salt.   The Indian Mutiny was so called at the time and has been the generally accepted term since, whether we like it or not.  It makes no sense to change it when speaking of Beato's photographs.    This, however, should be a discussion about photographs, not about nomenclature, so I suggest we leave it at that!.

Eric Butler said:

Many people find the term 'Indian Mutiny' offensive as they do not consider that you can mutiny in your own country. Indian Rebellion is a more accepted term.

I would attribute these 3 images to J. E. C. Dannenberg, a commercial photographer who was working in Lucknow immediately after the mutiny, and produced a series of images of the damaged city, which were stylistically very similar to Bento's. He continued to print and sell these images for another 20 years or more and the later prints were sold as gelatine prints. I used to own a whole album full of them!

Many thanks for this very helpful lead, which I shall now follow up.

Hugh Ashley Rayner said:

I would attribute these 3 images to J. E. C. Dannenberg, a commercial photographer who was working in Lucknow immediately after the mutiny, and produced a series of images of the damaged city, which were stylistically very similar to Bento's. He continued to print and sell these images for another 20 years or more and the later prints were sold as gelatine prints. I used to own a whole album full of them!

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