British photographic history

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Bourne Supremacy takes on Historic Delhi

No, not your 21st century CIA assassin, aka Jason Bourne, but our very own 19th century Staffordshire 'sharp shooter', Samuel Bourne (1834 – 1912).

An exhibition of rare photographs, including ones by this legendary and prolific photographer in India from 1863 to 1870, will be on display at the "Historic Delhi: Early Explorations of the Camera, c.1860-1950". Bourne's name is synonymous with British Indian photography, and also one of the most researched and highly-recognised colonial photographer.

Commencing on 1st October, the exhibition will showcase around a hundred vintage prints from the extensive Alkazi Collection of Photography, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi. It also includes images by Lala Deen Dayal, as well as from local photo companies such as the Delhi Photo Company.

The coming of early photography to Delhi and other Northern states was influenced by pioneering professional
photographers, Bourne being one of them, from the later established the company of Bourne and Shepherd (still operating in Calcutta). Bourne’s determination to photograph the most picturesque and remote areas of Northern India resulted in the finest examples of scenic photography ever produced by a single photographer. His travels and photographic work was recorded in a string of articles in the British Journal of Photography in the late 1860s. With more than 2200 images in his catalog by the time he left India seven years later, in 1870, Bourne has to be considered one of the finest artistic photographers of his time.

The Alkazi Foundation’s exhibitions often seek to depict a history of photography in India through the shows. This exhibition too brings forth this pedagogic line of thought. Details of the exhibition can be found here.

Guess it's time for Matt Damon to retire ...

Photos: Samuel Bourne, Jama Masjid from Dariba Kalan, 1860s, Albumen Print. The Alkazi Collection of Photography; The Civil and Military Gazette Lahore, 22 October 1880, Courtesy: National Archives of Pakistan, Islamabad; Bourne and Shepherd, Begum of Bhopal at the 1911 Durbar, 1911. The Alkazi Collection of Photography

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