Early photographs of Burma and India exhibition

Early photographs of Burma (now Myanmar) and southern India taken by Captain Linnaeus Tripe between 1852 and 1860 are on show for the first time in the V&A. This was really early photographic work, the first photograph ever taken was in 1826. He chose a negative size of 15×12″ instead of the more usual 6×8″ because in those days you couldn’t enlarge lineusimages. The negative (pic, right) was always the same size as the print. Tripe took his photographs methodically, he thought ahead about the light and made exposures several minutes long, which is why there are no people in them. All the prints have puffy cloudy skies which Tripe painted by hand on the surface of the rag-based paper negatives before they were printed. He would travel for 50 days at a time and curator Roger Taylor, professor emeritus, photographic history, De Montfort University, says: “He new many antiquarian scholars in southern India and so Tripe was embedded in those networks of scholars [who could help him]. He took the first image of Burmese architecture, few Britons would have seen these buildings and landscapes. Many of the buildings do not exist any more, he is documenting a time of colonial transformation.” Captain Linneaus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma 1854-1860. Now until 11th October. 10am – 5.30pm and entrance is free. vam.ac.uk

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