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HomeContents > People > Photographers > James Burgess

Dates:  1832, 14 July (August?) - 1916, 5 October
Born:  Scotland
Died:  Scotland, Edinburgh

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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

Amateur, India
Archaeological Survey
To India 1835; engaged in educational work in Calcutta and Bombay; employed as Archaeological Surveyor and Reporter for Western India, 1874; for Southern India, 1861; Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, 1886; retired 1889; edited The Indian Antiquary from 1872-84.
Burgess was aware from early days of the importance of photography for archaeological documentation, and on his early tours undertook much of the photographic work himself, with Indian assistants. In his first report (see below), he makes some comments on photographic requirements, which he felt diverted him from his prime duties. When Henry Cousens became his assistant, he took over much of this work. The first three volumes of Burgessís published reports of his archaeological tours in Western India 1874-76, are illustrated by original prints from his own photographs. In subsequent volumes, these were replaced by collotype and other forms of photo-mechanical reproductions:
Report of the First Seasonís Operations in the Belg‚m and Kaladgi Districts. January to May 1874 (London: India Museum, 1874). This report of Burgessí tour contains 23 albumen prints from his photographs. A list at the end of the volume pp. 44-45, gives a complete list of the 54 photographs taken during the tour, prints of which can be found in the India Office Series (British Library, APAC Photo 1000). In his introduction, Burgess makes some comments on photography: ĎThe allowance set down for photography (Rs. 1,500 for the year, or Rs. 250 a month for six months) was manifestly inadequate; it would do little more than pay for materials, etc., but I hoped that by using for this purpose a portion of the other allowances for establishment, and by doing everything I possibly could with my own hands, I might make it suffice. I could hear of no one likely to accept the terms I could offer for the photography, and I therefore employed an assistant moderately acquainted with the processes, and took charge of it myself. This is consequently the department in which the work has suffered most from insufficient funds, though the lenses, camera, etc., were provided free of expense to Government. The Honourable Mr. Gibbs, in paragraph 24 of his Minute, and the Government of Bombay, in paragraph 2 of the Despatch accompanying it, had suggested somewhat more liberal allowances, but such were not granted ...í (Preface, p. vi). The staff Burgess had to hand (Ďtwo assistants and a servant to clean glass plates, etc.í), should, therefore, be enlarged to include two students from the Bombay School of Art to copy sculpture and architectural detail, a competent photographer and a Pandit to copy inscriptions: 'Such a staff might be employed at only a slight increase on the present allowances, and would enable me to do the same amount of work at any given place in half the time and in a better style...'
Report on the Antiquities of K‚thi‚w‚d and Kachh, being the Result of the Second Seasonís Operations of the Archaeological Survey of Western India. 1874-75 (London: India Museum. 1876). The main series of 33 original photographs is interspersed as plates within the main body of the text. A further extra series of 29 prints is bound in at the end of the work, prefaced by the following note: ĎThe following extra photographs illustrative of this report are not published, but the negatives are deposited at the India Office.í In this copy of the work, these prints are in fact included at the end of the volume, and in the present catalogue are numbered with an 'a' suffix. It is unclear whether all, or merely a proportion of copies of the published report, contain these extra photographs. A second copy in the British Library (at pressmark ***), also contains the supplementary prints.
Report on the antiquities in the Bidar and Aurangabad districts, in the territories of His Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad, being the result of the third seasonís operations of the Archaeological Survey of Western India. 1875-76 (ASI New Imperial Series, vol. 3, W.H. Allen, London, 1878). Report describes remains examined during the annual cold season tour; illustrated with 20 original albumen prints: Caves and temple at Dharasinva; Portion of the frieze of the great cave at Dharasinva; cave IV at Dharasinva; South portion of the double-storied cave at Karusa; North portion of the double-storied cave at Dharasinva; Shiva shrine in the double-storied cave at Karusa; Cave of Mahadeva at Karusa; Interior of cave of Mahadeva at Karusa; Hemadpanti temple at Narayanpur; Interior of temple at Narayanpur; Temple at Umnabad; Madrasa at Bidar; Great Mosque at Bidar; Dargah of Berid Shah at Bidah; Jogai Mandir at Amba; Old temple at Sanvkhed; Temple and tirtha at Sanvkhed; Aurangabad rock-temple, Cave I; Aurangabad rock-temple, Cave VI; Hindu temple at Ellora. 

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