Goodbye, Bourne & Shepherd
The world’s longest-running photo studio fades out in Kolkata.
Image: Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Shipping in the Hooghly, c. 1860 Samuel Bourne Courtesy MAP / Tasveer
Bourne & Shepherd, the legendary Kolkata photo studio, and one of the oldest of its kind in the world, announced last month that it is shutting down after more than 150 years of continuous operation. It was established by the British photographer Samuel Bourne in 1863, who was joined by Charles Shepherd three years later. Between them, the two shot landscapes, architectural masterpieces, the British Raj and Indian nobility as well as celebrities. Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray `sat’ in the studio for portraits. One of the best-known photographs shot by the studio was a rare portrait of the mystic Swami Ramakrishna. A devastating fire in 1991 destroyed most of the studio, and it never recovered from the tragedy. Ironically, the news comes at a time when the studio has been the subject of a major photo exhibition called Figures in Time: Bourne & Shepherd, organised by Tasveer, the leading Indian promoter of photography as an art form. Shown in Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad in the last few months, it will travel to Baroda and Jodhpur next year.
Darjeeling, The loop on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, c. 1880 Bourne & Shepherd; Courtesy MAP / Tasveer
Afghanistan, Group of Affreedies from the Khyber Pass, c. 1860 Charles Shepherd; Courtesy MAP / Tasveer
Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Esplanade Road, c. 1880 Bourne & Shepherd; Courtesy MAP / Tasveer
Udaipur, His Highness, Maharana Sajjan Singh, 1877 Bourne & Shepherd; Courtesy MAP / Tasveer