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Publication: The Nicholas Brothers & A. T. W. Penn

The Nicholas Brothers & A. T. W. Penn: photographers of South India 1855–1885 examines the successful studios established by John and James Perratt Nicholas and Albert Penn in Madras and Ootacamund. The text is illustrated with over 100 plates and 150 figures, the majority of which are published here for the first time. The book further reproduces a catalogue of Nicholas & Co.’s photographs from 1881, which will serve as an invaluable tool for researchers and collectors.

In the 1850s and 60s, Madras was an important centre for the rapidly developing art of photography. Dr Alexander Hunter founded the Madras School of Arts in 1850 and the Madras Photographic Society in 1857, where John Nicholas served on the committee. Pioneering photographers Linnaeus Tripe, John Parting, Edmund David Lyon, Willoughby Wallace Hooper and Samuel Bourne all contributed to the rapid advance of photography in the region. James Perratt Nicholas and A. T. W. Penn continued their work to the end of the nineteenth century.

This publication marks the end of a 12-year research project for the author, who scrupulously documents three decades of work by James Perratt Nicholas and A. T. W. Penn. It begins with the early years of the Nicholas studios in Madras and Ootacamund, explains how the business achieved success in the 1870s and 1880s and concludes with the introduction of the Kodak, the rise of the amateur photographer, and the inevitable decline in the studios’ profitability that followed.

The Nicholas Brothers & A. T. W. Penn: photographers of South India 1855–1885 is being published by Quaritch in Summer 2014. If you would like to be contacted when it is available for purchase at the special prepublication price, please contact: Alice Ford-Smith:

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Comment by Hugh Ashley Rayner on November 4, 2014 at 9:05

I've just finished reading this. An excellent book; well researched and produced; with a lot of fine illustrations; many of which I hadn't ever seen before. An absolute must for anyone interested in early photography in India.

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