Exhibition of Vintage Photographs of Raja Deen Dayal – 21st June to 20th July 2014
Venue: National Gallery of Modern Art, Bengaluru, Time: 10.00 a.m. -5.00 p.m This rare collection comprises photographs, glass plate negatives and studio furniture of the legendary 19th century photographer, Raja Lala Deen Dayal. A great artist and technician, the legacy of his negative plates and original prints are of great importance to the world of photography. The collection includes the British rule in India, portraits of royalty as well as the common people, landscapes and monuments. The Raja Deen Dayal Collection of glass-plate negatives and some of the photographer’s work equipment is one such collection. This collection has been acquired from the descendants of the 19th century photographer Raja Deen Dayal. The legacy of Raja Deen Dayal is an exhibition mounted from the collection of glass-plate negatives of India’s most accomplished photographer of the 19th century, and an introduction to the life and works of Raja Deen Dayal. The photographer beyond the portrayal of his subjects draws a picture of his time. He translates his perceptions through his medium and thus a collection of photographs is the milieu as experienced and described by him. Raja Deen Dayal’s photographs offer us not only vivid insights into India’s rich art and cultural heritage but also provide valuable testimonials for historians. The exhibition is thus broadly, though fluidly, arranged in three sections. These deal with the key indicators of a land and its people describing the ethos of the age. The central section is devoted to the photographer himself. The Place: The photographer’s record of the physical setting in which he lived and worked, and through which he travelled, the natural and man made physical substructure. The People: The individuals who peopled the setting, the various and varied inhabitants. The Event: The happenings and activities of the people which enlivened the setting, marked the passage of time and indicated the modes of life then, as perceived by the photographer. Yet, in any creative endeavour the artist himself is the crux of any display of his works. Thus the central rotunda, to which one returns time and again after glimpses of his work to view the persona of, the various influences on, the individual methods and technical expertise, of Raja Deen Dayal. Deen Dayal was born in 1844, at Sardhana in Meerut, to a family of jewellers. At the age of 20, he had completed technical training at Thomason’s Civil Engineering College at Rourkee and held the prestigious appointment of Head-estimator and draughtsman with the Public Works Department, Indore, It was here that he was introduced to photography. By the time he was 30, his familiarity and brillance with the medium attracted enough attention to grant him the patronage so essential to all artists. His first patron was Maharaja Tukoji Rao II of Indore, who introduced him to Sir Henry Daly, the British Agent at Indore. He then had the opportunity to photograph the visit of the Prince of wales and his entourage, in 1875. This was followed by his appointment to Lord Dufferin’s office as “Photographer to His Excellency, the Viceroy”. Encouraged by the growing appreciation and consequent demand for his photographs he decided to trade a lucrative career in Government Service to photograph the countryside. His albums of India views and ancient monuments became very popular and were bought as memorabilia and gifts by the British and Indian Royalty. During his sojourn through Hyderabad he photographed the Nizam at a parade. Astute and ambitious, he presented the photographs to the Nizam who promptly appointed him as “Court Photographer”. In the Nizam’s service from 1885 to his death, he kept a regular pictorial account of the princely menage, photographing royal entourage and visiting nobility, lavish parties, extravagant parades, hunting expeditions as well as palaces and their interiors and the relief work organized by the Nizam in times of famine. In appreciation of his work and dedication, the Nizam bestowed on him the honorific title of “Raja” and composed a couplet in Urdu in his name. Towards the turn of the century Raja Deen Dayal was acclaimed as one of the leading exponents of photography in India. Queen Victoria honoured him with a Royal Warrant, and his exhibits were acclaimed at international exhibitions. He set up flourishing studios in Secunderabad and Indore, a zanana studio for women in Hyderabad as well as owned the largest work shop-studio in Bombay. Raja Deen Dayal died in 1905, bequeathing to history an intimate glimpse into the lives of princes, and the British, ordinary fold and tribals, as well as vistas of archaeological sites, monuments and the architectural heritage of the country.