Depictions of India by a pioneering British photographer to sell

An album of very early photographs of important ancient cultural sites in the South West Indian state of Karnataka (capital Mysore) by the celebrated photography pioneer, Andrew Neill, are offered for auction at Bonhams.

The 15 images, taken around 1855, were collected by someone identified only by the initials G.W.W who seems to have compiled the album many years later in 1914.  G.W.W clearly had no idea who the illustrious photographer was. 

He wrote on the flyleaf, "These photographs were given me by the Artist who took them, a Medical officer of some Native Regiment... whose name I have forgotten but whose list of them I have preserved and copied above.

We met at Bellery in 1854 or 1855, & I lent him my camping Equipage & servants for a week while he took them...". 

Andrew Neill Indian Photo
One of Andrew Neill's Indian Photos

Neill was attached to the Indian Medical Service at Madras and his fame rests largely on his photographs of the Indian Mutiny and his contributions to Ferguson and Taylor's Architecture in Dharwar and Mysore, 1866, several images for which are included in this collection which would make an excellent investment.

Among the most significant photographs are a three-part panorama of the temples at Hampi (now a World Heritage Site); an image of a tower in the wall of a Zenana (the part of the house reserved for women in South Asian Muslim homes) in the ruins at nearby Kamalapur and the famous giant statue of Yoga Narasimha  (called Narsima by G.W.W)  - a Hindu deity often portrayed as half man/half lion - between Hampi & Kamalapur.

The photos will be on offer for £4,000-6,000 in the India and Beyond sale in London on 5 October.

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