Bourne & Shepherd : Figures in Time









Part of Tasveer’s 10th anniversary celebrations, this exhibition of 19th century vintage photographs sourced from the rich photographic holdings of MAP (Museum of Art & Photography, Bangalore), includes a range of landscapes, architectural views and portraits by the photographers Samuel Bourne, Charles Shepherd and the Bourne & Shepherd studio.

One of the most famous of the early European commercial photographers, and the most prolific photographer of the ‘picturesque’ tradition, Samuel Bourne, a former bank clerk, arrived in India in 1836. Bringing with him a large amount of photographic equipment, developing local contacts here, and having access to Indian bearers, Bourne travelled the subcontinent widely — producing over 2000 negatives including some of the finest nineteenth century travel photography.

Initially partnering with William Howard, Bourne set up the Howard & Bourne studio in Shimla. They were joined by Charles Shepherd, and with the leaving of William Howard, the studio dropped his name to become Bourne & Shepherd. In 1866, in alignment with a growing culture of studio-photography, the Bourne & Shepherd establishment set up a branch in Calcutta, where it still trades as one of the oldest studios in the world, to this day.

One of the most prestigious studios of its time, it was patronised heavily by royalty, nobility, Europeans, Indians and a mushrooming upper middle class; and certain to be commissioned for special events such as the Delhi Durbar (some images of which form part of this exhibition). Though Shepherd was also a photographer of some standing, he became more known as a master printer, staying back to head the business side of operations; and was somewhat overshadowed by Bourne, who soon became the primary photographic expert on India, travelling the length and breadth of the subcontinent. Known for his architectural and topographical (especially mountain and hill views) photography, Bourne’s work immortalised the Indian landscape and was fervently consumed by the British public — primarily in the form of postcards, book illustrations and views for albums.

 The nature of this form of distribution, coupled with the available technology of the time, meant that these images were primarily realised in a relatively small size. One of the highlights of this exhibition, is its reproduction of select prints in enlarged ratios that allows viewers a unique insight into these historically significant photographs from a contemporary moment.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by the publication of a new catalogue that carries an original essay by Hugh Ashley Rayner, prolific British author and scholar of early Indian photography, on the life and works of Samuel Bourne. 

Exhibition Schedule

Mumbai

20 August - 15 September 2021

Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum
Veer Mata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan (Rani Baug)
91/A, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road, Byculla East,
Mumbai 400027
10:00am - 5:30pm,
Wednesdays Closed

Ahmedabad

23 October - 01 November 2021

National Institute of Design
Design Gallery, Paldi
Ahmedabad 380007
Daily 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm 

Kolkata

08 March - 25 March 2022

The Harrington Street Arts Centre
8 Ho Chi Minh Sarini 
Harrington Mansions 2nd Floor
Flat no.5 & 25B
Kolkata 700071 
Monday to Saturday 12.00 pm - 7.00 pm

Bangalore

13 April - 06 May 2022

TASVEER
Sua House
26/1 Kasturba Cross Road
Bangalore - 560001
Monday to Saturday 10:00am - 5:30pm

New Delhi

30 May - 10 June 2022

Exhibit 320
F - 320 Lado Sarai
New Delhi - 110030
Monday to Saturday 11.00am - 7pm