Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860

September 21, 2014 – January 4, 2015

West Building Ground Floor

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Quarterdeck of HMS “Impregnable,” 1852–1854,
albumen print,
National Gallery of Art, Washington, William and Sarah Walton Fund, Diana and Mallory Walker Fund, and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation through Robert and Joyce Menschel, 2010

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Madura: The Vygay River, with Causeway, across to Madura, January–February 1858, albumen print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Carolyn Brody Fund and Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation through Robert and Joyce Menschel, 2006

  • Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852-1860 /content/dam/ngaweb/features/slideshows/linnaeus-tripe/Images/DEX56.jpg

    Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Carved Doorway in Courtyard of Shwe Zeegong Pagoda, August 20-24 or October 23, 1855,
albumen print,
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Diana and Mallory Walker Fund, 2012

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    Linnaeus Tripe, 
Amerapoora: South Ditch of the City Wall, September 1-October 21, 1855, albumen print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Edward J. Lenkin Fund, 2012

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Amerapoora: Ouk Kyoung, September 1-October 21, 1855, albumen print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Edward J. Lenkin Fund, 2012

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Rangoon: View near the Lake, November 1855,
albumen print,
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Diana and Mallory Walker Fund, 2012

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Amerapoora: Wooden Bridge, September 1–October 21, 1855,
albumen print, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach, Directors, and Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2012, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Amerapoora: Shwe-doung-dyk Pagoda, September 1-October 21, 1855, albumen print, Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach, Directors, and Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2012, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Pugahm Myo: Gauda-palen Pagoda, August 20–24, 1855, albumen print, The British Library, London

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    Linnaeus Tripe,
Seeringham: Great Pagoda, Munduppum inside Gateway, January 1858, albumen print,
The British Library, London

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Beekinpully: Permaul’s Swing at Mariammah Covil, December 1857–January, 1858, waxed paper negative, The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Amerapoora: Colossal Statue of Gautama Close to the North End of the Wooden Bridge, September 1–October 21, 1855,
albumen print,
Collection of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro

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    Linnaeus Tripe, Beekinpully: Permaul’s Swing at Mariammah Covil, December 1857–January, 1858, albumen print,
Collection of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro

Captain Linnaeus Tripe (1822–1902) occupies a special place in the history of 19th-century photography for the outstanding body of work he produced in India and Burma (now the republic of Myanmar) between 1854 and 1860. Although he learned photography in Great Britain from amateurs who considered it a pastime, he recognized that it could be an effective tool for conveying information about unknown cultures and regions. With few models to follow, Tripe developed a professional practice under the auspices of the large bureaucracy of the British East India Company. Reflecting his military discipline as an officer in the British army, he achieved remarkably consistent results, despite the Indian heat and humidity, which posed constant challenges to photographic chemistry. In addition, Tripe’s schooling as a surveyor, where the choice of viewpoint and careful attention to visual details were essential, gave his photographs their distinctive aesthetic rigor.

This exhibition traces Tripe’s work from his earliest photographs made in England (1852–1854), to ones created on expeditions to the south Indian kingdom of Mysore (1854), to Burma, (1855), and again to south India (1857–1858). Many of his pictures were the first photographs ever made of celebrated archaeological sites and monuments, ancient and contemporary religious and secular buildings — some now destroyed — as well as geological formations and landscape vistas; thus they provided a new kind of visual information. Yet the dynamic vision Tripe brought to these large, technically complex photographs and the lavish attention he paid to their execution indicate that his aims were not merely documentary but artistic.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in association with the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Sponsors: This exhibition is made possible by The Exhibition Circle of the National Gallery of Art.

It is also supported by the Trellis Fund.

Additional funding is kindly provided by Edward Lenkin and Roselin Atzwanger.

Other Venues: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, February 24–May 25, 2015
Victoria & Albert Museum, London, June 23–October 11, 2015

Image: Linnaeus Tripe, Madura: The Vygay River with Causeway, across to Madura, January–February 1858, albumen print, National Gallery of Art, Washington, The Carolyn Brody Fund and Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation through Robert and Joyce Menschel

Captain Linnaeus Tripe Exhibition Catalog

Exhibition Catalog
Captain Linnaeus Tripe
Roger Taylor, Crispin Branfoot, with Sarah Greenough and Malcolm Daniel