A new exhibition has opened at London’s Getty Images Gallery, based around a collection of rarely-seen photographs that document the history of one of the world’s most fascinating countries.
Indian Treasures, which is due to run until October 7, marks the 70th anniversary of Indian independence from Britain. The photos have been drawn from the Getty Images Hulton Archive, which is home to more than 100 million images and represents the largest and most comprehensive photographic archive in private hands.
Sourced from scrapbooks, albums, glass plate negatives and vintage prints, the collection provides some of the earliest photographic documentation of India. It also highlights the incredible technical and artistic ability of a number of ground-breaking photographers, including early photographic explorers Samuel Bourne, John Edward Saché and Felice Beato.
Matthew Butson, vice-president of Getty Images Archive, said: “A complex landscape and medley of influences, India has long been a springboard for the imagination, not least for some of photography’s pioneers.
“After what has felt like a thrilling archaeological dig, we could not be more excited to share these incredible images – and stories – with gallery visitors.”
Visitors to the exhibition will find photographs of maharajas and musicians, everyday cityscapes, striking prints of Himalayan valleys and even a shot of a 19th century snake charmer.
The display includes one of the earliest photographic views of the Taj Mahal, a series of colour prints made using the rarely-seen photocrom process, plus a recently uncovered work by the renowned Indian photographer Lala Deen Dayal.
Yet another highlight is a set of portraits taken from a four-volume album, showing the princes and rulers of India bedecked in pearls and precious stones. The album was found to contain a hand-written note revealing that the set has only one other copy, presented to Queen Victoria, most likely to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
Amie Lewis, manager of the Getty Images Gallery, said: “Our aim at the Getty Images Gallery is to make accessible to the general public these incredible cultural treasures from the Getty Images Archive. We welcome admirers and collectors alike to immerse themselves in Indian Treasures.”