StoryLTD by Saffronart Presents First Auction of Vintage Photography in India
Mumbai — Rare photographs, albums, stereoscopic cards and photography books are among the 103 lots to be auctioned by StoryLTD on 9 - 10 October 2018. Titled Fine 19th Century Photographs of India, the online sale features the work of some of the leading early practitioners of photography in the country, including Lala Deen Dayal, Samuel Bourne, and Felice Beato, among others. This is the first dedicated auction of vintage photography to be held in India.
A signed presentation copy of an album of royal portraits (lot 22), which once belonged to the famous cricketer Maharaja Ranjitsinji, leads the sale with an estimate of INR 6.5 - 7.5 lakhs (USD 9,095 - 10,490). Comprising 70 individual carbon and platinum prints, the album comes with its original red cloth covering with elaborately bordered gilt, and illustrates the eager interest shown by Indian royalty in this new medium in the mid-19th century.
The lots in the auction follow the evolution of the photographic medium over nearly 100 years. Photography arrived in India in 1840, soon after the Daguerreotype was made publicly available, and frequent travellers both to and from the country ensured that it kept up with international developments. The auction includes photographs created using various techniques prevalent over these years, including albumen prints, silver gelatin prints, ambrotypes, platinum prints, cyanotypes and stereoscopic cards. The wide presence of photographers in India also meant that some of its most significant moments were documented, including the 1857 mutiny, the Durbars and coronations, and the changing sociopolitical and topographical framework of the country, leading up to Independence in 1947.
Maharajahs and rulers were among the foremost patrons of photography, often commissioning photographers to take ceremonial portraits of themselves in all their finery. Lala Deen Dayal, one of the first and most prolific Indian photographers of his time, benefited from his employment in the court of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, and eventually received the honorary title "Raja" for his services. Among his vast and versatile oeuvre were numerous royal portraits, 81 of which are included in this auction as a set (lot 15) estimated at INR 5 - 7 lakhs (USD 6,995 - 9,795).
Other highlights include a large collection of cased stereoscopic views of India, Europe, North America and South Africa (lot 11), with a presale estimate of INR 3.5 - 4 lakhs (USD 4,900 - 5,595). A circa 1850s hand-tinted cased ambrotype (lot 5), an invitation and panorama of the 1911 coronation Durbar in Delhi (lot 45), and a rare book by Henri Cartier Bresson titled Beautiful Jaipur (lot 93) are examples of the diverse lots on offer that would enhance the collection of any collector of photography from the period.
The auction will take place on 9 - 10 October 2018 on storyltd.com, and is preceded by viewings at the Saffronart gallery in Mumbai from 3 - 10 October 2018 (excluding 7 October). All lots can be viewed on storyltd.com.