Skip to Main Content

Samuel Bourne and India

From 1858 to 1947 the great subcontinent of India was part of the British Empire, and India’s people were ruled by regional princes and the British Viceroy. This selection of 19th-century albumen photographs from the National Gallery of Art Library’s department of image collections shows the India of this period, known as the British Raj, with views of the great forts, palaces, temples, mosques, and tombs of the Indian princes, as well as British Colonial architecture.  

Many of these photographs are from an album by Samuel Bourne (1834–1912), who worked in India from 1863 to 1870. Before returning to England, he and Charles Shepherd (active 1858–1878) set up the photographic company Bourne & Shepherd, first in Simla (Shimla) in 1863 and later in Calcutta (Kolkata). Long considered the world’s oldest continuously operating photographic studio, Bourne & Shepherd closed in 2016. Lala Deen Dayal (1844–1905) was an Indian photographer who documented sites particularly in the Deccan and Hyderabad. The views of India by F. Frith & Co. were taken by traveling employees of the company, not by Francis Frith himself. Images from the Gramstorff Archive are small-format albumen proof prints; the Gramstorff Brothers’ Photographic Art Publishers of Malden, Massachusetts, acquired prints and negatives from various European photographers and brought them back to the United States to be reproduced and sold under the Gramstorff company imprimatur. Dates given for all images are the approximate date the negative was created.

Note that building and place names reflect their 19th-century British usage, with current use shown parenthetically: for example, Bombay (Mumbai). For more information about the buildings shown, follow the links to the image collections database.

Click on a slide above to view a larger image and detailed description (44 images total)

Bourne, Samuel
British, 1834 - 1912