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Newly discovered early photographs by Linnaeus Tripe of India and Burma to be sold

Mention was made here of Tripe photographs being  offered by Bonhams. Sotheby's has now revealed that it will be offering an important cache of previously unseen Tripe material. 

Sotheby's London is pleased to announce that it will offer for sale a remarkable group of more than 220 newly-discovered photographs by Linnaeus Tripe depicting India and Burma in the mid-1850s, including 42 images of which no other prints are recorded, and five previously unknown photographs.

Tripe was one of the greatest photographers working in India in the 19th Century and this is the largest single collection of his photographs ever to have been offered for sale. Tripe’s Views of Mysore of 1854 (estimated at £100,000-200,000) and his Views of Burma of 1855 (estimated at £200,000-300,000*) are highlights of Sotheby’s Travel, Atlases, Maps and Natural History Sale on 15th November 2011.

These extraordinary photographs were presented by Tripe to the Governor-General of India, the 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, and have come by descent to the present owner. They have not been seen by scholars for 150 years and are being offered for sale for the first time.Sotheby’s Specialist Richard Fattorini said: “This is a ground-breaking discovery and represents the largest group of photographs by Linnaeus Tripe ever to be offered for sale. These rare and beautiful images, printed by Tripe from waxed paper negatives, will rewrite the scholarship on his work. The images are among the first photographs taken of Mysore and Rangoon. They were presented by Tripe to the 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, who sent Tripe as part of the Mission to Ava in 1855 as an “Artist in Photography”.

The title was apt - Tripe was truly an artist in his medium, with an extraordinary compositional eye. Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902) is one of the most important photographic innovators of the 19th century. His works are often stylised and his subtle use of light and shade remarkably accomplished. Tripe was also a master of photographic printing. He used albumenized paper and hyposulphite of gold as a toning agent, which gives his best preserved works a wonderfully rich violet hue. While on leave from the Army in December 1854, Tripe embarked on a private expedition from Bangalore, accompanied by fellow amateur photographer Dr A.C.B. Neill.

Tripe recorded a series of views of little-known Hindu and Jain temples in Mysore. The photographs in the series are the earliest views of India by Tripe to be recorded. These, and Dr Neil’s images, are the earliest photographs made of the sites. The set includes 56 albumen prints, of which nearly every image is signed by Tripe in ink. It contains 26 unique prints, including three previously unknown photographs for which the negatives have not survived. Of the remaining 30 prints, only one or two other prints by Tripe have been previously recorded. The only other set of Tripe’s Views of Mysore known to exist, but comprising just 22 prints, is held by the J. Paul Getty Museum in the United States of America.Colossal statue of Gantama, Amarapoora. In April 1855, Lord Dalhousie recommended that a political trip to Amerapoora (Amarapura), Burma, take place following the 1852 Anglo-Burmese War. An artist had been intended to accompany the group, but it was decided photography was a more suitable medium for accurate documentation of architecture and Tripe was employed on Lord Dalhousie’s recommendation.

This presentation set of 134 albumen prints including two 2-part folding panoramas, is the largest single group of Tripe’s Burma photographs and are among the first photographs taken in that country. They include wonderful images of religious and secular architecture in the capital, as well as palace remains at Ava and the remarkable Shwe Dagon Pagoda at Rangoon (pictured, page one).This unique set, of which nearly every image is signed by Tripe, contains 13 unique prints, including two newly discovered and previously unseen photographs for which the negatives have not survived. They are preserved in the original blue morocco presentation portfolio.Also in the sale is another group of 36 photographs of Burma by Tripe, from the same consignor, estimated at £40,000-60,000.

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