Albert Kahn, a French banker, got into collecting photographic records of world cultures in 1909. Until 1931, Kahn collected 72,000 photographs from 50 countries. He called this collection, The Archives of the Planet.
This fortnight, NGMA is displaying a fraction of the collection that features India. Upon entering the sprawling, three-floored NGMA, viewers are transported to the splendour of images of architecture, royal families, portraits, landscapes, people and culture of India in the early 1900s.
The exhibition, showcased by Louis Vuitton, is an effort to pay homage to India as a historical and mythical destination for travelers from around the world.
Incidentally, the Maharajah of Holkar, the Prince and Princess Pudokota, the Maharajah Bahadur of Jammu and Kashmir, Jagatjit Singh and Maharajah of Kapurthala were amongst Louis Vuitton’s clients in India at the beginning of the 20th century. This probably explains them being part of the collection.
The Archives of the Planet are now conserved in the former residence of Kahn. With hundreds of photographs on view, the show is worth a dekko and worth the time spent in the gallery.