Exhibition Catalog Captain Linnaeus Tripe
Audio Symposium Lecture Part 1: ''A Glorious Galaxy of Monuments': Photography and the Archaeological Survey of India after Tripe," John Falconer
Audio Symposium Lecture Part 2: "Interpreting Early Photography in India: Medium and Method," Zahid R. Chaudhary
Audio Symposium Lecture Part 3: "Measuring Time: Linnaeus Tripe’s Inscription of the Thanjavur Temple, 1858," Maria Antonella Pelizzari
PDF Download Public Symposium Program
Return to India
Tripe returned to India in 1854 during a transitional time in the history of Great Britain, India, and Burma. By the mid-1850s, after centuries of conflict, the East India Company ruled large portions of India and Burma and was the world’s largest, most powerful commercial enterprise and the effective sovereign of the subcontinent. As the company transformed itself from conqueror to ruler, the gathering of information — data, maps, surveys, drawings, and somewhat later in the century, photographs — became a critical element in maintaining its domination.
This environment prompted Tripe to embark on an expedition to photograph the celebrated temples in Hullabede and Belloor in Mysore, then a kingdom in south India. A vast, sprawling location, Hullabede had been the capital of the Hoysala dynasty between the 11th and 14th centuries. The trip gave Tripe the opportunity to use his newly mastered skills as a photographer to record and contemplate the ruins of a former civilization. With his perspective as a military surveyor, he aimed to present information as comprehensively and unambiguously as possible.
Hullabede: Suli Munduppum from the Northeast, December 1854
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal
Tripe’s photograph of this decaying munduppum (a four-columned hall) revealed the precarious future of this structure in a way that no written account or drawing could have done.
Hullabede: Suli Munduppum from the Northeast, December 1854, waxed-paper negative
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum, Bradford
Tripe most likely made paper negatives because the process was more forgiving in India’s climate. He could also prepare his negatives in advance and develop them at his leisure, unlike the newly invented collodion process in which the glass negative had to be prepared immediately before exposure and developed immediately afterward. Tripe also used very thin paper, which he waxed in order to make his negatives more transparent and capture greater detail. He made his prints by placing the negative in contact with a sheet of light-sensitive paper. At the time, there was no practical way to make enlargements, thus if he wanted a large print, his negative had to be of equal size.