Samuel Bourne and Indian natives : aesthetics, exoticism and imperialism

Guégan, Xavier (2009) Samuel Bourne and Indian natives : aesthetics, exoticism and imperialism. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Samuel Bourne (1834-1912), one of the most prestigious Victorian English commercial photographers to have worked in British India, is best known for his photographs of the Himalayas. Bourne's work features in general studies of photography of the period; his representations of the Indian landscape have been the object of studies and several exhibitions. Bourne was in India initially from 1863 to 1870 thereby establishing his career as a professional photographer. Soon after his arrival he started a business with the experienced photographer Charles Shepherd. Within a few years, the firm of Bourne & Shepherd became recognised as being a directing influence over British-Indian photography. The photographs were taken either in studio or on location, and included individual and group portraits of both the British and Indians, topographical images in which peoples were incidental, as well as a range of representations of Indian life, customs and types. These images were informed by, and in turn contributed to, an expanding body of photographic practice that mixed, to varying degrees, authenticity and aesthetic style. Whilst Bourne's work was significant and influential in the representation of Indian peoples, no substantial study has been undertaken until now. The aim of this thesis is to redress this imbalance. The central focus highlights the specific character of the images portraying Indian people. This specificity was determined by a combination of technical and 'authorial' factors, by the audience to which they were addressed — ranging from the general public in Britain to the family circle of wealthy Indians — by commercial considerations, and by current and evolving notions of authority, race and gender. The first two chapters seek to frame Bourne's work by first examining the political and cultural context of photography in India during the mid-nineteenth century, then by focusing on the context of the photographer's own production. The following three chapters are concerned with the study of the photographs themselves regarding what they depict and the questions they raise such as gender, racial identities and imperialism. The last chapter is an attempt to assess the significance of these photographs by comparing them with the work of Lala Deen Dayal, and highlighting different perspectives on Bourne's work regarding British India and Western societies. Placed in the context of the development of photography as a medium of record and representation, this thesis aims to show that Bourne's work is a significant historical source for understanding British cultural presence in post-Mutiny India.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Access to the electronic version of this thesis is restricted. The thesis may be viewed in print at University Library, Northumbria University.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Samuel Bourne, 1834-1912, Photography-19th century, India-History-19th century
Subjects: V300 History by topic
W100 Fine Art
W900 Others in Creative Arts and Design
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Related URLs:
Depositing User: EPrint Services
Date Deposited: 06 Apr 2010 08:46
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2022 14:00

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