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Francis Frith, Musjid, Boorhaupore - From Frith Series, circa 1859–70, albumen print, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Gift of Howard and Margaret Bond, 1990/2.17

An Eye on the Empire: Photographs of Colonial India and Egypt

March 22 - June 29, 2014

The zenith of the British Empire in the later nineteenth century coincided with a unique convergence of cultural, technological, and economic forces. Interest in the diverse lands under British influence led to numerous expeditions to explore and map new regions of the Empire.

At the same time, a rising tourism industry began to package trips to well-heeled Victorians hoping to visit societies quite different from their own. Photography, with its ability to capture in precise detail the geography, peoples, and culture of far-flung lands, brought this exotic world home to an eager audience in England, and its commercial potential sent numerous professional photographers to both India and Egypt. Serving as part record of famous monuments and part ethnographic survey, these photographs constituted a vast body of images that shaped colonial conceptions of these lands, while today they preserve an evocative record of Egypt and India from an earlier time. This exhibition includes a selection of works by leading photographers of the era such as Francis Frith and Samuel Bourne.


This exhibition is offered in conjunction with the University of Michigan’s theme semester, India in the World.

Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the University of Michigan Health System.