Kashmir in 19th Century Photography

05.04.2011 to 30.11.2011

This veritable Shangri-La at the foot of the Himalayas, with its favourable climate and picturesque landscape, has captivated people on their travels around India ever since the Great Moguls made the Kashmir Valley their summer residence in the 17th century. In particular, the scenic landscape of the many lakes and rivers surrounding the capital Srinagar, the characteristic wooden buildings and the ruins of Hindu temples provided artistically minded photographers active in India with ideal, stunning motifs.

The symmetrically arranged gardens, once scattered over the entire valley, have been a tourist attraction since the 1860s. Thanks to the plenitude of water, the Moguls began to create exquisite gardens soon after the conquest of the area. The most lavish of these were situated on the banks of the equally picturesque Dal Lake. Most of them were built on the slopes and crossed by artificial waterways that cascaded down into larger basins and finally into the lake itself. These gardens, which went on to inspire horticultural trends in the whole of India, were one of the favourite subjects for photographers.

The vintage prints, held in the museum's South, South-east and Central Asian Art Collection, originate from a generous loan from two German private collections. The exhibition has been conceived as a contribution to the study of early photography from South Asia and presents a small but impressive selection of the most important studios active in Kashmir, including great names in early Indian photography, such as Baker & Burke, Samuel Bourne, William D. Holmes and John Edward Saché.