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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Henry James Barr

Dates:  1851 (check) - 1881
Born:  India, Bombay
Active:  India

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Henry James Barr
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

The son of a lieutenant colonel in the Indian army, Barr was born in Bombay and educated in England at Addiscombe Military Seminary; he entered the Bombay Native Infantry in 1833. He was proficient in Hindustani and became an interpreter. Holding a number of largely administrative posts, Barr took two leaves of absence to visit Egypt and seemed to be doing well in the army until 1852, when, according to his service record, he showed “great want of energy, decision and accuracy of recollection.” Perhaps photography proved a welcome release, but one at least hopes that Barr’s newly found passion for the camera was not a detriment to his military career. How and when he got his start in amateur photography are not known, but Barr was elected president of the Photographic Society of Bombay in 1856 and subsequently served on its council. He contributed both calotypes and waxed-paper views to the society’s 1856 exhibition. His was obviously an appointment of merit; according to the Journal of the Photographic Society of Bombay, fellow members felt that Barr “excels in Talbotype,” and his calotypes of “the wood scenery about Bombay . . . were very beautiful, both as regards execution as photographs, tone as prints, and in artistic effect, and were deservedly admired by all.” Barr remained in military service in India for his entire career. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
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