Photography of Raja Deen Dayal at ROM

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First Solo North American Exhibition of famous 19thCentury Indian Photographer

Portrait of Raja Deen Dayal by staff photographer E. Craig, April 1904, Gelatin silver print, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

Portrait of Raja Deen Dayal by staff photographer E. Craig, April 1904, Gelatin silver print, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. Courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal, a feature exhibition in this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, highlighting the photographic work of Raja Deen Dayal (1844-1905), one of the most renowned photographers in 19th-century India.

The exhibition, which takes place in the ROM’s Level 3, Hilary and Galen Weston Wing, from April 20, 2013 through until January 12th 2014, is presented in association with The Alkazi Collection of Photography, New Delhi. It is inspired by a major new publication, Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-century India,co-authored by the exhibition curators, ROM Senior Curator Dr. Deepali Dewan & art historian Dr. Deborah Hutton, of The College of New Jersey. This publication, and by extension the exhibition, are based on almost a decade of archival research.

The exhibition brings together more than 100 works of art, culled from three major international collections: the ROM’s collection of large, leather-bound photo albums produced by the firm Raja Deen Dayal & Sons and photographs from the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts and The Alkazi Collection of Photography, New Delhi. There will also be a vintage Dallmeyer camera, once belonging to Dayal’s studio, on view.

North Gate Sanchi Stupa,© Raja Deen Dayal 1883 Albumen print, Royal Ontario Museum

North Gate Sanchi Stupa,© Raja Deen Dayal 1883 Albumen print, Royal Ontario Museum

In order to accurately capture Dayal’s professional trajectory, Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal consists of four thematic sections. The Business of Photography lays out the inner workings of the firm of Raja Deen Dayal & Sons including the types of commissions they received and how much they charged. Civil Works and Princely States examines how Dayal’s earliest photographs were produced in the context of colonial public works. Royal Photographer: Hyderabad explores Dayal’s role as court photographer to Mahbub Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam, one of the wealthiest men of his time.  The Art of Portraiture shows how Dayal’s various studios thrived in and indeed helped produce a modern age with new ways of perceiving the self.

Dr. Deepali Dewan, ROM Senior Curator, says, “Through this exhibition, ROM visitors will experience the legacy of a photographer who captured an important moment in India’s history. The vintage prints are stunning and provide a viewing experience we don’t have access to in our digital age.”