USC Pacific Asia Museum

Join Donate
46 North Los Robles Avenue
Pasadena, California 91101
Open Wednesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm
Translations Chinese Simple Chinese Traditional Japanese Korean Espanol
USC Pacific Asia Museum

Join our Mailing List



Through the Colonial Lens:
Photographs of 19th and 20th Century India

Through the Colonial Lens
Samuel Bourne
(British, 1834-1912)
Kutub Minar with the Great Arch,
from the West

Delhi,1866, Albumen print. Loaned by Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Barbara Timmer
Three Children in Fancy Dress
Unknown Photographer
Three Children in Fancy Dress
India, 1870's
Albumen print. Loaned by Catherine Glynn Benkaim and Barbara Timmer

February 3 - Sept 4, 2011
In the Focus Gallery
Exhibition Brochure
[PDF: 894KB]

This exhibition will feature more than 70 images in 2 rotations selected for both their striking imagery and for what they reveal about the dynamism of India in this era. Through the Colonial Lens looks at the history of photography in India from its early adoption dating from the 1840s through the early 1900s. The exhibition will also explore themes of the subjective view, consumption of images and photography’s growing prominence over earlier forms of media.

Photography began developing in South Asia almost immediately after it was introduced in Europe, thereby producing a rich body of images created both by Europeans living in India as well as by Indians themselves. Amateur and professional photographers used the new medium to document their daily life as well as conduct land surveys, anthropological and archeological studies and produce images for the tourist trade and export.

Through the Colonial Lens also looks at the transition from miniature painting to photography as a way to document life in South Asia. Colonial military detachments and companies conducting business during the Raj increasingly turned to the new medium of photography to document their experiences in India as well as to complete projects, such as land surveying, anthropological and archeological studies, and producing images for the tourist trade and export. By the later 19th century, photography had almost completely supplanted miniature painting in India, due to its immediacy and quick and relatively easy methods of production. Indian photographers also used the new medium and made innovations with the technology, both of which are presented in the exhibition.

Drawing from local private collections, Through the Colonial Lens will feature the work of both amateur and professional photographers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including Samuel Bourne, Lala Deen Dayal, Edward Lyon and John Murray. Curated by Bridget Bray.

This exhibition generously sponsored by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

Related Events:

Saturday, April 30, 2011, 2:00-4:00pm
Curator's Tours: Through the Colonial Lens and Visions of the Orient explore the intersections between cultures and the viewpoints from which each considers the “other.” Join curators Kendall Brown and Bridget Bray for your own inside look at these exhibitions.

Fridays, June 3, July 8 & August 5 2011, 8pm
Colonial Lens Film Series
This summer's film series explores India's colonial era as depicted in the photos of Through the Colonial Lens.