Posing for Posterity Royal Indian Portraits


  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lustre (31 December 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9788174368782
  • ISBN-13: 978-8174368782
  • ASIN: 8174368787

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The lens of a camera never more brilliantly captured the well-orchestrated spectacle of pomp and glory that was the Raj, than in the portraits of the rulers of Princely India. Both amateur and professional early Indian photographers captured rulers and their families at their flattering best, creating enduring images that remain evocative and crucial visual documents of our past. The depiction of the Indian ruler was primarily governed by formal court protocol and etiquette, but also by the capabilities of early photographic technology and the capacity of its practitioners for experiment. The resulting images offer glimpses of a glorious past, but equally reveal the carefully choreographed presentation of royal personas for posterity and the hidden story of the patron–photographer relationship, which played a significant role in enabling it. It is vital then, to see the picture from multiple viewpoints, both contextual and metaphorical, and this volume draws the many threads together for the first time, including the history and functions of both portraiture as well as photography in India; the socio-cultural position of the portrait (princely or otherwise) in the past two centuries; and their political subtext. Drawing on previously unpublished material from collections across India and the world, and illustrated with the resulting panoply of images, the reader is at last in possession of an accessible, comprehensive introduction to royal Indian portraits.