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  Life   More Features  09 Oct 2018  History through the lens

History through the lens

Published : Oct 9, 2018, 6:44 am IST
Updated : Oct 9, 2018, 6:47 am IST

Among the 103 lots of photographs, the biggest is the 81 carbon print royal portraits by Lala Deen Dayal.

British Army: Indian Mutiny
 British Army: Indian Mutiny

An auction of vintage photographs explores the evolution of the photographic medium over the last 100 years and highlights the progression of socio-political life on the Indian subcontinent.

In a dedicated auction of vintage photographs in India, StoryLTD by Saffronart has brought on board sepia-tinted photographs, albums, single photographs, stereoscopic cards and books that have been gathered from various collectors across India. Titled Fine 19th Century Photographs of India, the online auction puts forth the evolution of the photographic medium of over nearly 100 years and the beauty with which early masters captured India.

Nana Saheb Peshwa of BithoorNana Saheb Peshwa of Bithoor

Beginning today, the online sale features the work of leading early practitioners of photography in the country, including Lala Deen Dayal, Samuel Bourne, and Felice Beato, among others. It was to address the desire among collectors to find the best photographs of historical significance in India, that StoryLTD began to work on the collection that took them more than a year to source.

Hand coloured photographHand coloured photograph

“When we began to develop a curatorial concept for this auction, two possibilities strongly emerged - either organising the narrative thematically or chronologically. Though both had their merits, we decided on a chronological frame comprising various thematic configurations. The auction lots start with the early photographic documentation of the first Indian mutiny, followed by 19th-century photography techniques, ethnographic studies, portraits of royalty, hunting scenes, views of the Durbar, cityscapes, and monuments of India among others,” says Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and co-founder, Saffronart.

Silver gelatin print on stereoscopic cardsSilver gelatin print on stereoscopic cards

Among the 103 lots of photographs, the biggest is the 81 carbon print royal portraits by Lala Deen Dayal. Another highlight of the auction is a personally signed album of royal portraits by famous cricketer Maharaja Ranjitsinji. Comprising 70 individual carbon and platinum prints, the album comes with its original red cloth covering and an elaborately bordered gilt. The album reflects the interest shown by the Indian royalty in the medium of photography in the mid-19th century.

Royal potraits by Lala Deen DayalRoyal potraits by Lala Deen Dayal

The auction also brings to collectors the oldest technique of photography - the ambrotype photographs where photos were printed on a glass placed in an ornate mount and a wide collection of stereoscopic cards by Underwood and Underwood that comes with a stereoscopic glass giving viewers a 3D projection.

Dancing girlsDancing girls

On display are also various non-exportable photographs that are more than 100 year old. One such is an albumen print on paper of Nana Sahib Peshwa, a proof that he was captured in Gwalior in 1874. And to vouch for the authenticity of the picture, the curators have provided comparable images by Illustrated Weekly.

Among the monograms and sepias are the hand-coloured photographs where colouring was done on the photograph after its printing.

Dinesh VaziraniDinesh Vazirani

Dinesh tells that photographs by well-known photographers such as Lala Deen Dayal and Colin Murray among others have a particular appeal for young collectors, mirroring their interest in their heritage. “We are seeing a growing interest in historic photography, which is in itself a fading art in the digital age. People are looking to own a piece of history, a record of the past. Vintage photographs are appealing because of their rarity and limited numbers. These photographs are valuable for their uniqueness. We are establishing this as an annual event which collectors can look forward to,” he concludes.

Tags: dinesh vazirani, photographs