Pioneer of Early Photography Show to Open at V&A

Posted May 11, 2015 at 5:35 pm in Art, Heritage, News

Tripe SS1Amerapoora Colossal Statue of Gautama Close to the North End of the Wooden Bridge
by Linnaeus Tripe, (September 1 – October 21, 1855)

A MAJOR exhibition of the pioneer of early photography, Captain Linnaeus Tripe will open at The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, this year including more than 60 of his most outstanding images taken between 1852 and 1860 of the landscape and architecture of India and Burma (Myanmar) in the 1850s.

Tripe SS2Pugahm Myo: Thapinyu Pagoda by Linnaeus Tripe. August 20-24, 1855

On display at the V&A will be Tripe’s photographs of architectural sites and monuments, ancient and contemporary religious and secular buildings, as well as roads, bridges, moats, landscape vistas and geological formations throughout India and Burma.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe SS3Pugahm Myo: Carved Doorway in Courtyard of Shwe Zeegong Pagoda
Linnaeus Tripe. August 20-24 or October 23, 1855

Many of the images are the first photographic records of these sites and the prints on view represent the highlights of Tripe’s output. They will be shown alongside bound albums of his work, a panoramic scroll and two models of monuments similar to his subjects.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe SS4Corner of Mygabhoodee-tee Kyoung  by Linnaeus Tripe. September 1-October 21, 1855

Tripe (1822-1902) was born in Devon, southern England and joined the East India Company army in 1839 . He was stationed in India throughout the 1840s and learnt photography when he was leave in England for several years in the early 1850s.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe SS5Henzas on the East Side of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda by Linnaeus Tripe. November 1855

The show aims to highlight Tripe’s considerable skill at a time when “photography was about to undergo rapid change and the practice and recognition was becoming more widely adopted. It will also show his understanding that photography could be used to convey information about unknown cultures and places to the general public.”

Captain Linnaeus Tripe SS6The Great Pagoda Jewels, January – February 1858  by Linnaeus Tripe January – February 1858

The photographs on show were taken on two major expeditions and document an significant era in Indian, Burmese and British history. In 1855 Tripe was appointed by the governor-general of India to accompany a mission to Burma to study the area. He became the first person to photograph the region’s remarkable architecture and landscapes. Tripe then went on to be the first to photograph extensively in south India after his subsequent appointment as photographer to the Madras government.

Captain Linnaeus Tripe SS7Trichinopoly: Musjid of Nutter Owleah, from the Head of the Lane Leading to it
by  Linnaeus Tripe January or April 1858

Through this official role he aimed to capture as much of the south Indian region as possible. After each trip he returned with more than 200 large format paper negatives, from which he carefully oversaw the complex printing in his Bangalore studio that he founded for this purpose.

Tripe’s photographs are technically complex and he is known for his innovative precision with the camera, paying close attention to both his composition and its realisation when printing. To evoke atmospheric effects Tripe retouched most of his negatives by applying pigment in thin layers and included in the exhibition will be a selection of waxed-paper negatives that reveal these working methods.

by Caroline Simpson

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

Part of the V&A India Festival from June 24 – October 11, 2015
, #LinnaeusTripe

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