Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860, Part 1: “A Glorious Galaxy of Monuments”: Photography and the Archaeological Survey of India after Tripe
John Falconer, curator of photographs, India Office Collection, The British Library. British army officer 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) in the 1850s. With few models to follow, he used photography to explore these little-known cultures, working under the auspices of the British East India Company. On December 10, 2014, the National Gallery of Art hosted a public symposium to accompany the exhibition Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma, 1852–1860. On view September 21, 2014-January 4, 2015, the 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 photographs were the first to document celebrated archaeological sites and monuments, ancient and contemporary religious and secular buildings — some now destroyed — as well as geological formations and landscape vistas. 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 artistic as well.