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Volume 61 Number 1, September 2009

Volume 61 Number 1

Aperture and Identity: Early Photography in India
Edited by: Rahaab Allana

From the General Editor’s Desk

Introduction

Perspectives
Ephemeral Encounter: Three Artists in India, 1857–59
Rahaab Allana

The Camera's Beloved: H.H. Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan – Patron of Photography
Anita M. Jacob

A Different Stage of Existence: The Canning Album, 1855–65
Deepthi Sasidharan

The Photograph as Field-note: The Visual Trace in Early Anthropology in India
Akshaya Tankha

Discovery
Master of Ajanta: A Study of Major Robert Gill
Divia Patel

Photo Essay
Seven Photographs from 19th-century Kashmir
Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Focus
Panoramas of Mumbai
Sharada Dwivedi

Ancilliaries
Centre and Periphery: Photography’s Spatial Field
Christopher Pinney

Interview
A Photographer's Thoughts: Interview with Madan Mehta of Mahatta Studio
Akshaya Tankha

Special Feature
The Photography Archive at the City Palace Museum Udaipur
Pramod Kumar K.G.

Book Reviews

Revisiting Marg  Vol. 14, No. 1

From the General Editor's Desk
Pal, Pratapaditya
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 10-11

Pratapaditya Pal describes the new direction that Marg is taking, as it reinvents itself to address the changing nature of culture and communication.

Aperture and Identity: Early Photography in India
Allana, Rahaab
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 12-15

An introduction to the field of photography in India and its early history, it draws upon specific examples that illustrate particular transitions in visual culture and the shifting role of photography.

Ephemeral Encounter: Three Artists in India, 1857-59
Allana, Rahaab
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 16–31, 121

The focus is on the contribution of a photographer, a painter, and a journalist and the relationship they developed by sharing aspects of their output with one another. William Howard Russell was the first War journalist working for The Times, London to arrive in India during the Uprising of 1857. He produced a publication entitled My Diary in India, where detailed accounts of the Uprising are juxtaposed with lithographic images, originally sketched by Egron Lundgren, a Swedish artist who based his drawings on the photos of the Italian Felice Beato. The article uses visualizations of the Uprising, together with a comparative study of sketched image and photograph in order to draw upon the camera’s ability to communicate dual realities, its documentary value and the memorialization of the Uprising in the larger circulation of images.

The Camera’s Beloved: H.H. Nawab Mir Mahboob Ali Khan – Patron of Photography
Jacob, Anita M.
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 32–47, 121-124

The text charts the life and times of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad through photography. He was the most distinguished princely patron of the medium. These rare photographs are drawn from the Chowmahalla Palace Collection (the private collection of the Hyderabad royal family) and the Alkazi Collection of Photography. As a benefactor of studios and important court photographers, brought together for the very first time is a unique glimpse of the Nizam’s public and private life.

A Different Stage of Existence: The Canning Album, 1855–65
Sasidharan, Deepthi
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 48–61, 124-125

This album contains over 100 images relating to the life of the Lord and Lady Canning through north India. The photograph represented a complex mix of prevailing stereotypes of maharajas, individual viceroys’ political purposes, maharajas’ self-fashioned images, and their photographers’ own styles. The album also presents a personal narrative of the photographer, who is greatly enamoured by Lady Canning.

The Photograph as Field-note: The Visual Trace and Transitions within Early Anthropology in India
Tankha, Akshaya
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 62–73, 125-126

The corpus of ethnographic photography, compiled by the British in India, from the mid-19th century onwards, reflects the growth of early anthropology in the subcontinent. While such a practice was evidently tied in with colonialism and concerns of Empire it was also charting a course peculiar to its own interests that lay outside the ambit of the state. It is this peculiar curiosity, with documenting peoples, that forms the subject of this essay, specifically relating to the sustained photographic fascination with the Toda community in south India from the mid-19th to the early 20th century. The essay highlights how understanding the complex interface between anthropology and photography needs to be located in the practice of photography, in how images are read, and the milieux through which they travel.

Master of Ajanta: A Study of Major Robert Gill - an Artist, Draughtsman, and Photographer
Patel, Divia
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 74–83, 126

An insight into the life of 19th-century photographer Robert Gill who was stationed at Ajanta through his personal album. His development as a photographer was influenced by his work as an artist and draughtsman. He wrote detailed accounts of each cave, made copies of the murals, and drew the architectural features of the caves to preserve this history for posterity. The advent of photography added another dimension to the project. He soon mastered the art of printing the photographs he took.

Found Pictures and Lost People: Seven Photographs from 19th-century Kashmir
Sengupta, Shuddhabrata
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 84–91

Samuel Bourne was the first Indian commercial photographer who travelled to the Himalayas and shot along the way, exquisite images of Kashmir. Explored here is a single notion arising out of the photos, the idea of Kashmir as a “frontier”, exploring the extreme conditions under which photographers worked, but also alluding to the manner in which Kashmir was never easily expressed as merely a picturesque location.

Panoramas of Mumbai
Dwivedi, Sharada
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 92-97

Concentrating on two panoramas of Mumbai taken in the 1860s, revealed are aspects of the city, even those that lie beyond the frame of the image. The panoramas show the medium’s ability to alter perspectives by melding formats.

Centre and Periphery: Photography's Spatial Field
Pinney, Christopher
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 98-103

Examined is the inter-pictorial approach to reality in the painted photograph. It creates a nucleus between realistic documentation and artistic expression, thus yielding insights into popular culture and the birth of modernism in Indian photography.

A Photographer's Thoughts: Interview With Madan Mehta of Mahatta Studio
Tankha, Akshaya
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 104-111

Mahatta and Co. is a place intimately associated with photography, to the way in which we have come to understand and celebrate it in Delhi.
Madan Mehta, since 1954, along with his father, uncles, and subsequently his two sons, has steered this premier studio through five decades of dedicated workmanship and expertise. Under his watchful gaze, lives have emerged on paper; they have been developed, fixed, washed, and sometimes touched up with great precision. The interview gives a glimpse of this studio’s rich history. It also narrates a fascinating account of photography’s changing modes of being, stories of affirmation and remembrance, chronicled through the production and consumption of images in post-Independence India.

The Photography Archive at the City Palace Museum Udaipur
K.G., Pramod Kumar
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 112–120, 126

An archive uncovered in 2008 is revealed here – the collection of the City Palace Museum. Its reserves yield a vibrant local culture of portraiture and observance of ceremonial occasions in the 19th century. These bring a multidimensional view of the recent past through photographs.

Book Reviews
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 129–132

Faces of Indian Art: Through the Lens of Nemai Ghosh edited by Ina Puri, reviewed by Romain Maitra; Umrao Singh Sher-Gil: His Misery and His Manuscript by Vivan Sundaram and Deepak Ananth, reviewed by Kavita Singh.

Revisting Marg
Poddar, Rashmi
Vol. 61 No. 1, September 2009, pp. 164–166

Revisit Marg Volume 14 Number 1, December 1960, with the essay 'Photography as an Art Form'.