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Ansichten von Calcutta. [Views of Calcutta]
Calcutta, c.1880 - Quarto. Black cloth portfolio (325 × 248 mm), cloth from the upper panel of the original contemporary folder, with title as above gilt, mounted. Mounts slightly rippled and with occasional foxing, the prints largely clear and sharp. 31 albumen prints on card with neatly pencilled captions in German. Mounts 318 × 240 mm, prints full to half plate size. Fascinating collection of images of Calcutta around 1880, seemingly the work of a technically highly competent amateur. The images divide more or less in half, one part featuring the monuments and buildings of the European occupation of the city; the other concentrating on native life and "types." The sights included in the first grouping include the Museum completed in 1875, now the Indian Museum, showing cows grazing amongst the building materials scattered in the foreground; the General Post Office; the Governor's House and the statue of Sir John Lawrence; a view of the Maidan with the equestrian statue of Lord Hardinge and the Ochterlony Monument; a series of views of Eden Park including the band-stand and the Burmese pagoda; 5 images of the Zoological Gardens, opened 1876, with attractive views of the pheasant house and the tiger enclosure; and two views of the Hooghly, one of shipping in the harbour with a forest of masts, the other of the pontoon bridge at Howrah which was still in use in 1943. In the panoramic view of Chowringhee - "Europaeischer Straße" - the sign of Bourne and Shepherd's photographic studio can be easily picked out. The thirteen images of the indigenous people include excellent views of village life - native shops, an ox-waggon, a toddy-gatherer - native craft on the Hooghly, a superb study of a palanquin and its carriers at rest, and a fine image of a juggernauth lowering over a village street. Just one the prints has any form of naming or numbering on the plate - Bootleute am Flue Hooghly, which has "Alborne [or Osborne] 118" in the negative in the middle of the image - the rest are without any studio serial or name stamp, although three of the "types", male and female water-carriers and the barber, do have much in common with studio productions for the tourist market. The rest show considerable technical ability in the exposure and development, but perhaps lack the compositional skills that might be expected of a professional, some of the wider views having a greater expanse of foreground, with fewer figures to add interest, than would generally be found in the studio-generated images of the period. It seems most likely that these are the work of a keen amateur, and are therefore unlikely to be found elsewhere. There is a pencilled inscription, "Emil Kohler 3 Rue Leopold, Bruxelles," inside the upper panel of the portfolio, in the same hand as the captioning on the mounts.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2014-10-02           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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