Prome. General View

Photograph
August 1855 to November 1855 (photographed), 1857 (printed and published)
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Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902), an army captain, was the official photographer on a government visit to Burma in 1855. The photographs he made during his stay resulted in his album of 122 images, Burma Views, which were published in 1857. He focused on Burmese Buddhist Architecture. This image, made of two photographs joined together, is a result of that project, and shows Tripe's keen sense of observation and wish to make impressive and comprehensive records.


object details
Category
Object Type
Brief Description
Photograph, 19th century, No. 1 from series 'Burma Views' by Linnaeus Tripe, 'Prome. General View', albumen print, Burma, 1855
Physical Description
This black and white photograph is a diptych, and shows a view of a city, with a temple complex to the right, trees in the foreground, and a lake or river with mountains in the distance. The left image is lighter than the right side of the diptych.
Dimensions
  • Photographic print height: 275mm
  • Photographic print width: 601mm
Production typeLimited edition
Marks and Inscriptions
(The mount has been labelled with the title and plate number.)
Object history
This photograph accessioned after being found in the Asian Study Room in 2007. It was probably amongst those given to the museum in 1933 by Mrs Edith Storrs, a member of the Tripe Family. There is no object list in the registered file to confirm which photographs defininitely came from Mrs Storrs. The donation included 137 prints of Burma, 2 of Mysore and 49 of Madras. Only 15 photographs from the donation were accessioned at the time. Since there were known to be versions of these photographs in the collection already, they were not formally accessioned. See Dewan p.219 for listings of other copies of the same photograph elsewhere.



This photograph was published in the album Burma Views 1857, by Captain L. Tripe, official photographer to the Government of India's Mission to Ava [Burma]. Tripe made over 200 photographs during this trip, and the captions to the images are thought to be a collaboration between Tripe and the secretary to the Mission to Ava, Henry Yule.



Tripe’s Burma Views were distributed widely and were very well received. Tripe sent 50 copies to Calcutta. Fourteen sets from these were distributed by the Government of India, including seven sets to members of the Mission to Ava, former capital of Burma. Twenty sets were ordered by the East India Company’s Court of Directors, and most were given to members of the Court. It is not known what happened to the remaining sixteen sets. Due to Tripe’s ownership of the negatives, he printed a selection of his photographs for further distribution. A set of 92 views of Burma was given to the King of Prussia, and more sets were given to the Madras Photographic Society and associated figures. Two hundred and ninety additional prints were offered for sale at 2 Rupees per print at Griffiths and Co., Madras.



Historical significance: After his series of Burma photographs made in 1855, Tripe went on to become Government Photographer for the Madras government. He produced significant works that function as both records and works of art. These are some of the earliest record photographs of Burma.



It was hard work to produce photographs in the 1850s, particularly in the heat of India. Tripe was under pressure to produce them quickly, and evidently would have preferred more time and better working conditions. He wrote an accompanying disclaimer for the albums:

‘The accompanying Views…in justice to him as a Photographer employed by the Government of India, should not be looked upon as a challenge to Photographic criticism; but as a series of views of subjects interesting on account of their novelty…As excuses too, for these defective photographs he would wish it known, that he was working against time; and frequently with no opportunities of replacing poor proofs by better. Also that, from unfavourable weather, sickness, and the circumstances unavoidably attending such a mission, and actual working time was narrowed to thirty six [sic] days’ (This note is photographed in Dewan, p.211).
Historical context
In April 1855 Lord Dalhousie, governor general of India, advised on a political trip to Amerapoora, Burma following the annexation of Pengu (part of Burma) by the British after the 1852 Anglo-Burmese war. Tripe was sent to accompany the party in 1855 as official photographer. The photographs he made during his stay resulted in his album of 122 images, Burma Views, published in 1857. These photographs result from this project, and have Tripe’s original numbering and titles on their mounts.
Production
Edition number unknown. This print was probably made to go into the album 'Burma Views', of which 50 full sets were produced. Additional prints were produced by Tripe for different sets of Burma images.



Attribution note: The V&A has another copy of this photograph in the Indian Study Room, in the series of boxes PH.73 to PH.76. The Royal Photographic Society holds the waxed paper negative. There are no traces of binding on this photograph, so it is doubtful that it was ever part of an album.

Reason For Production: Commission
Subject depicted
Place Depicted
Summary
Linnaeus Tripe (1822-1902), an army captain, was the official photographer on a government visit to Burma in 1855. The photographs he made during his stay resulted in his album of 122 images, Burma Views, which were published in 1857. He focused on Burmese Buddhist Architecture. This image, made of two photographs joined together, is a result of that project, and shows Tripe's keen sense of observation and wish to make impressive and comprehensive records.
Bibliographic Reference
Dewan, Janet. The Photographs of Linnaeus Tripe: A Catalogue Raisonné. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 2003, p.219.
Collection
Accession Number
IS.134-2007

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record createdApril 30, 2007
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