Author(s): John Falconer
After the public announcement of the invention of the camera in 1839, photography spread swiftly round the world, and by the early 1850s the medium had become well-established in the Indian subcontinent. In a land characterised by the variety and splendour of its architecture and landscapes, and the diversity of its peoples and customs, India offered the photographic artist an unsurpassed range of subject matter.
In addition to the artistic achievements of international masters of photography like Dr John Murray and Samuel Bourne, official encouragement of the medium as a documentary tool came from the East India Company. By the mid-1850s a remarkable visual 'archive' had been created, which charted the architectural heritage and ethnic composition of the subcontinent. This book, which accompanied a major exhibition of 19th century images from India, traces the development of photography from 1850 to 1900, when the ascendency of the large format camera and print began to crumble in the face of the simplified amateur camera. Drawn from the collections of the British Library, and Howard and Jane Ricketts, the book is illustrated with some of the finest photographs produced in India during the latter half of the nineteenth century, many never previously reproduced.