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HomeContents > People > Photographers > John Henry Kenrick

Dates:  1871 (ca) -

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

Commercial, India Married 27 Apr 1886, aged 25
Photographer at Ootacamund 1864-6 and 1873-83. Original prints by Kenrick are also pasted into some issues of The Indian Engineer in the 1870s.
Mr Kenrick, Ootacamund, 1873 (Asylum).
In response to the Government of Madras order of 24 July 1861 (No. 1070) for photographs of the races of India, E.B. Thomas, Collectior of Coimbatore, replied on 16 September: ‘I have tried in vain to obtain photographs, from amateurs, free of expence to government. Mr Kenrick, the only photographer now here, offers to do the five races chiefly remarkable here, Todars, Burghers, Kotars, Korumbers, Irulers, at 3 Rupees each, men and women, i.e. as required by the letter 40 each, or 200 photographs at 3 Rupees, Rupees 600. I request orders, as to whether I shall employ Mr Kenrick, as it appears the only means of carrying out the wishes of Government.’ This arrangement was sanctioned by Government, with the demand for an extra copy of each print for the Madras Museum.[1]
On 14 November 1861 Thomas again wrote to Government concerning the progress of the photography, and enclosing two letters from Kenrick. Thomas writes:
‘2, His engagement was to supply single figures at 3 Rupees each; but finding, as he proceeded with his work, that there were dissimilar character of feature, which (from the purpose of which these photographs are probably intended,) he considered it desirable to represent, he has in all his pictures produced groups of two, and thereby accomplished this object, and given the photographs more value.
‘3. I have been assured by Mr Kenrick, as well as by several amateur photographers who witnessed his proceedings, that the trouble attending this modified and improved form of picture, was not only very great, but that the consumption of ‘collodion’ and other material, was considerable; some fifteen and even twenty impressions in some cases, having to be taken, before a successful result was obtained.
‘4. Mr Kenrick has had to purchase also apparatus for this special work, which the ordinary engagements of his profession did not require; and as the photographs he has executed, are remarkably good, and have met with the approval of His Excellency the Governor, I think his additional charge of one half more, or Rupees 1-8 for every second figure, is reasonable, and request sanction accordingly.
‘5. Mr Kenrick has completed three of the tribes, (named in the margin* [*1. Todas, 2 Kotas, 3 Koorrumbers]) and promises the delivery of the 120 impressions in the course of 4 or 5 days. The other two tribes [Badagas and Irulas] will be taken, and the whole of the work finished, before the end of the present month.
‘6. In conclusion I be to enquire, whether some of the peculiar Hill Tribes of the ‘Anamalays’, as well as the Brinjaries, should not likewise be photographed? And whether a few of the peculiar Munds and Burgher villages should not be done?’
Kenrick’s first letter, dated Ootacamund, 20 October 1861, stated:
‘I beg to send per bearer the accompanying eleven photographs of the three hill tribes I completed for the inspection of His Excellency the Governor; when I arrived at the practical part of this undertaking, it occurred to me, that two figures on each plate, would not only make a better picture, but exhibit the different characters of features which are to be found amongst these people; and I think the results are completely satisfactory; the introduction of an additional figure however increased the difficulties of obtaining a perfect photograph, four-fold; and I trust that in consideration of the much larger outlay upon materials, to which I have been put, and the incessant labour I have had exclusively with these tribes for the last month, His Excellency the Governor will not object to sanction half as much again for each print, as I originally undertook to do them.’
Kenrick’ second letter, dated Ootacamund, 16 November 1861, reads:
‘I beg to advise you of having despatched by this day’s banghy two tin boxes to the address of T. Pycroft, Esq., Chief Secretary to Government, containing one hundred and nine (109) photographs of three of the tribes of these hills, namely, Todas, Kotas, and Kurumbas, making with the eleven (11) prints delivered to His Excellency the Governor when he was here, one hundred and twenty (120) impressions of forty (40) of each tribe. I have varied the supply in some instances. Thus, of the Todas, men and women, I have printed from six distinct negatives; of the Kotas, (men), from two; and of the Kurumbas, (men also), from two. The Government have in this way the advantage of a wider representation of the physical characters of these races, the curly hair appearing to prevail amongst the Todas, whilst the Kotas possess subjects of a slender as well as a more athletic formation. The photograph of the Kurumbas, (men), of which I have furnished six copies, serves to exhibit more fully the singular attenuation of the limbs of these people. I trust that the course that I have adopted will meet with the approval of Government, although I seek no remuneration for the additional labor and expense to which I have been put.
‘The copies of these photographs odered for His Excellency the Governor, and the Museum of Madras, I hope to forward in a few days.
‘The Badagas are to be taken on Monday, and the Irulas on Wednesday next. I will do my utmost to have the prints of these two tribes ready for delivery by the end of the month.
‘It has occurred to me that the munds occupied by the Todas, and the villages of the other tribes, would perhaps prove interesting subjects to add to the present collection. I will undertake to do them, if the Government will sanction thirty-five (35) Rupees, for every original, of which there will be five (5), and five (5) Rupees for every copy, the number of which will depend upon the order of Government. There will be considerable difficulty and outlay attending the work, as I shall have to travel and prepare a great number of dry collodion plates, (9x7), to ensure success.
120 prints............................ @ 4/8 Rupees 540-0-0
2 tin boxes and packing........ 2-0-0
Rupees 542-0-0

Government sanctioned the above increased expenditure, although turned down te offer of photographs of munds and villages.[2]
In a letter of 23 January 1862, E.B. Thomas, Collector of Coimbatore, fowards to Government 3 bills from ‘Mr Kenrick the photographer for photographs prepared by him of the Nilgiri Hill Tribes under the orders of Government, amounting in aggregate to Rupees 1,166’. These were for: (I) ‘200 photographs of 5 Hill Tribes’, total Rs.903, (ii) ‘36 photographs of the above tribes for His Excellency the Governor’, total Rs.180,and (iii) ‘18 photographs of the above tribes for the Madras Museum’, total Rs.82. (Madras Public Proceedings, 4 April 1862, IOR/P/249/78 p.224).
On 4 March 1862 Kenrick writes to Thomas, advising him that he has just despatched ‘by yesterday’s banghy...40 photographs, twenty of men and twenty of a girl, of one of the tribes of the Annamallays, namely the Kaders’. The total bill came to 257 rupees, 7 of which was payment to the sitters. In forwarding this bill, Thomas noted that ‘the people of the Mulser tribe of the Annamallays have not yet come. I have sent orders for them, and so soon as they come, their photographs will be prepared and submitted to Government.’[3] 

  1. Λ Madras Public Proceedings, 7 October 1861, IOR/P/249/76 p.875. 
  2. Λ Madras Public Proceedings, 16 December 1861, IOR/P/249/76 pp.1104-06. 
  3. Λ Madras Public Proceedings, 17 March 1862, IOR/P/249/78 pp.186-87. 

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