Temple of Vishnu, Trichinopoly, India, 1869

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Albumen printexpand_more

Gift of Fred Scheelexpand_more  98.144.16

In a quest for the picturesque, in 1863 Samuel Bourne left England to join a community of photographers in India, then under British rule. Over less than a decade, Bourne—and a team of South Asian porters carrying supplies of chemicals, glass plates, and a mobile darkroom—crisscrossed the subcontinent to produce over 2,500 photographs of the landscapes and architectural wonders of the growing British Empire. Bourne was gifted at capturing both scale and detail, and these images provide context for many other works in this gallery—note the latticework railings found at Agra Fort. These images convey a sense of discovery, but also an outsider’s perspective. For instance, the Raganatha Temple (about 900s ce) is one of the world’s largest active temple complexes; yet, in this picture, taken at dawn and strategically populated, the site appears remarkably quiet, evoking a romantic vision of a foreign land, ideal for cultural and commercial exploitation.

Details
Title
Temple of Vishnu, Trichinopoly, India
Artist Life
1834 - 1912
Role
Photographer
Accession Number
98.144.16
Curator Approved

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