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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

India in Photography: Sale of the Collection of Kanwardip Gujral at Bonhams in London

Dozens Of Images Of Indian Princes By Leading Early Photographers And Album Of Kashmiri Views

This important collection of 420 images from the 1850s to the 1940s, covering India and the adjacent countries, will be sold in London by Bonhams on 9 April. Estimates for the photographs range from £100 to £15,000 – the sale is expected to make a total of £300,000.

It is the Collection of the late Kanwardip Gujral, a Hamburg-based businessman who was born in Lahore but brought up in Agra after 1947. His first purchase of Indian photographs was in 1976, but his collecting began in earnest in 1990 when he bought a group of nineteenth century albums while on holiday in Italy. The albums included a number of photographs of India, and formed the basis of his Collection.

kanwardip-gujraljpg.jpgImages range widely, from the North-West Frontier to Bengal, Himachal Pradesh to Madras, although there is a discernable focus on Agra, the place of Gujral’s childhood. Bonhams will be selling dozens of portraits of princes, many large and hand-coloured, as well as albums recording their marriages, shikar, keddah, and viceregal visits. A number of photographs date from before 1857, and are by John Murray, Felice Beato, Frederick Fiebig, and others. Two of the highlights are panoramas of the Taj Mahal and the Jama Masjid at Agra dating from around 1860, both by John Murray (estimates around £6,000 – 8,000).

The Collection in effect records the lives of Indians, and of Europeans in India: their dress, their trades, and their achievements – from albums compiled by viceroys to those of railway engineers and a series of photographs of the Lower Ganges Canal. It shows us their homes (from the simplest Toda hut to the grandest palace in Rajasthan), and their methods of transport (from bullock carts, howdahs, Rolls Royces, private railway carriages).

Highlights include: an album of views in Kashmir by Baker, Burke, Craddock and others, owned by the Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne (£10,000 – 15,000); several very large hand-coloured portraits of maharajas and other princes; fine topographical views by numerous early photographers of India including Bourne & Shepherd, Beato, Deen Dayal, Colin Murray, Saché, Tripe, Hooper, Biggs, Pigou, Neill, and others.