British photographic history

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The Artful Pose : Early Studio Photography in Mumbai- c. 1855-1940

May not be entirely British, but still a worthy book to add to the collection of a photo-historian wanting to know more about the history and evolution of early studio photography in India.

Photography arrived in the harbour city of Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) as early as 1840, via trade, as well as through European explorers and government officials. With the establishment of India's first photographic society in the city in 1854, the medium was used for documentation and later, even taught as an art form. Between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century, Mumbai became one of the largest centres of photography's patronage and dissemination in India, underscored by practitioners like Dr. Narayan Daji (C. 1828-1875), a medical doctor and brother to the acclaimed Indologist, Dr. Bhau Daji.

Originally known as the Victoria and Albert Museum and renamed as The Bhau Daji Lad Museum, it’s Mumbai’s oldest – since 1872. This museum was the recent setting for the Exhibition from which this book derived from. The Artful Pose depicts photography that was done in studios around 1855-1930. And the studios did indeed take their cameo-style posing seriously, with props, sometimes a narrative, varied shades of gazes and occasionally yes, a fakir.

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