British photographic history

Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history

Black and Asian History in Victorian photographs

The Royal Collection has over 450,000 photographs . They have been acquired by British monarchs, their consorts and other members of the royal family from 1842 to the present day. Queen Victoria (1819–1901) and Prince Albert (1819–61) laid the foundations of the collection, acquiring and commissioning new works from some of the finest early photographers, including Francis Bedford (1815–94), Roger Fenton (1816–69), Nicolaas Hennemann (1813–98) and Oscar Rejlander (1813–75), among many others.

Queen Victoria was particularly keen to acquire portraits that reflected the diversity of human experience, society and culture from across Britain and the British Empire. This trail highlights lesser known Black and Asian history in Victorian Britain, told through the individual narratives of Maharaja Duleep  Singh (1838–93), Prince Alamayu (1861–79), Sarah Forbes Bonetta (1843–80) and Cetshwayo, King of the Zulu (1826–84). Their stories, seen through selected photographs and works of art from the Royal Collection, connect with broader colonial and imperial histories and with the expansion of Empire during the nineteenth century.

The representation of Black and Asian individuals and communities within early photography in the Royal Collection is the focus of ongoing research as part of a partnership with Autograph ABP.

See more and explore the Collection here:

Image: Dr Ernst Becker (1826-88), Maharaja Duleep Singh of Lahore (1838–93) 23 August 1854. RCIN 2906149


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