Rare Photos from British Raj Era Show a Wealthy India [PHOTOS]
By Sanskrity Sinha | Oct 06, 2012 09:54 AM EDT
An exhibition at Scotland's National Portrait Gallery, featuring a rare collection of photographs by Scottish photographer Fred Bremner, explores life in India during the British Raj.
The exhibition, called Lucknow to Lahore: Fred Bremner’s Vision of India, runs until 7 April 2013, and showcases photographs taken in what was then called the Indian subcontinent, between 1882 and 1922. Bremner's collection features photographs of artisans at work, India's everyday life and local culture; the photos clearly depict India as a wealthy country.
"Bremner produced several photographs of Indian artisans at work which hint at the abundance of material wealth that placed India at the heart of Britain’s colonial economy," said the exhibition's curators. "Such images satisfied the huge interest in the subcontinent that had been fuelled by the International Exhibitions of London (1886) and Glasgow (1888). Displaying a rich selection of art wares, fabrics, carpeting, carved furniture and curiosities, these major events catered to the European consumer’s conception of India."
Meanwhile, some of the photographs feature pictureseque locations in India, particularly the state of Kashmir. According to curators, Bremner compared the scenic beauty of Kashmir to that of Switzerland.
"Switzerland is without the charm of oriental life, the quaint manners and customs of the people...which all add to the attractions of a trip to the Valley of Kashmir," Bremner wrote of his photographs of Kashmir in 1896.
Bremner also took photographs of infrastructure development, recording the changing landscape of India. The other photographs on display include portraits of colonial officers and some members of the native royal families.
"Through Bremner’s eyes we invite the visitor to get a sense of the people and places of Imperial India. Using his words, the exhibition brings to life individual experiences and opinions about that far-off land known as the Indian Empire," the curators added.
Here is a selection of the photographs displayed at the exhibition.
Nawab Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal (1858-1930), photo taken in 1922Source: National Galleries of Scotland
National Galleries of ScotlandSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Boat Scene, KarachiSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Peasant Life, SindhSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Pastoral Scene, BaluchistanSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Fruit Market, Quetta Bazaar (1900)Source: National Galleries of Scotland
This photograph may have been taken in Kashmir as Fred Bremner describes the beautiful carpets being made there.Source: National Galleries of Scotland
Woodcarver (1900)Source: National Galleries of Scotland
Making Brassware, PunjabSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Multan Pottery, PunjabSource: National Galleries of Scotland
River crossing, River Jhelum, KashmirSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Jehlum River, KashmirSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Dal Lake, KashmirSource: National Galleries of Scotland
Louise Marguerite Bridge, Chappar Rift, Baluchistan (1895)Source: National Galleries of Scotland
Railway tunnel, PunjabSource: National Galleries of Scotland