Through the Colonial Lens: Photographs of 19th and 20th Century India

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Kutub Minar with the Great Arch, from the West Delhi , 1866 Albumen Print © Loaned by Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Barbara Timmer
Through the Colonial Lens: Photographs of 19th and 20th Century India
Curated by: Bridget Bray

46 North Los Robles Avenue
Pasadena , CA 91101
February 3rd, 2011 - September 4th, 2011

626-449-2742 ext 10
Wed-Sun 10-6


This exhibition will feature more than 70 images in 2 rotations selected for both their striking imagery and for what they reveal about the dynamism of India in this era.Through the Colonial Lens looks at the history of photography in India from its early adoption dating from the 1840s through the early 1900s. The exhibition will also explore themes of the subjective view, consumption of images and photography’s growing prominence over earlier forms of media.

Photography began developing in South Asia almost immediately after it was introduced in Europe, thereby producing a rich body of images created both by Europeans living in India as well as by Indians themselves. Amateur and professional photographers used the new medium to document their daily life as well as conduct land surveys, anthropological and archeological studies and produce images for the tourist trade and export.

Through the Colonial Lens also looks at the transition from miniature painting to photography as a way to document life in South Asia. Colonial military detachments and companies conducting business during the Raj increasingly turned to the new medium of photography to document their experiences in India as well as to complete projects, such as land surveying, anthropological and archeological studies, and producing images for the tourist trade and export. By the later 19th century, photography had almost completely supplanted miniature painting in India, due to its immediacy and quick and relatively easy methods of production. Indian photographers also used the new medium and made innovations with the technology, both of which are presented in the exhibition.

Drawing from local private collections, Through the Colonial Lens will feature the work of both amateur and professional photographers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Samuel Bourne, Lala Deen Dayal, Edward Lyon and John Murray. Curated by Bridget Bray.