The Raja of images

There possibly isn’t any other person to have ever been called a ‘Bold Warrior of Photography’. Deen Dayal won the unique, ironical title of ‘Musawwir Jung Raja Bahadur’ in 1892 after having boosted the ego of the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad with a series of flattering portraits. Such patronage, and large commissions by the British, earned him enough to afford two lavish studios in Bombay and Hyderabad by the end of the 19th century. And allowed him an enviable eye on the history of the age.

The studios’ collection of glass plate negatives — some 2,857 of them — was bought by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in 1989. Mind you, Dayal’s celebrated images of the 1870s’ famine are with the Peabody Essex Museum in the US and the Alkazi collection in Delhi. But IGNCA’s is the single largest repository of Dayal’s works. And this show, curated by Jyotindra Jain, member-secretary of IGNCA, and Pramod Kumar KG, is the artist-raja’s biggest yet. You’d agree it’s about time.

Raja Deen Dayal: Studio Archives will be on show at the IGNCA, Janpath, till February 28, 10.30 am to 6.30 pm (except Mondays and holidays)


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