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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Lala Deen Dayal

Other: Lalla Deen Dayal 
Other: Raja Bahadur Mussavir Jung 
Other: Raja Deen Dayal 
Other: Raja Deen Dayal & Sons 
Other: Rajah Lala Deen Dayal 
Dates:  1844 - 1905, 5 July
Born:  India, Uttar Pradesh, Sardhana (near Meerut)
Died:  India, Bombay (Mumbai)
Active:  India
One of the first notable Indian photographers who did studies of the monuments of India as well as formal portraits. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi has a collection of his negatives. There are also albumen prints of military subjects by Lala Deen Dayal and Sons from the 1890s in the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at Brown University Library Center.

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Lala Deen Dayal
Lala Deen Dayal 
Family history 
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch.

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

Commercial, India
Originally employed as a draughtsman at the Thomason Engineering College at Roorkee, and in the early 1880s was employed as an estimator in the Public Works Department at Indore. He took up photography in the 1870s, but was still styling himself ‘amateur photographer’ in September 1883 (see inscription to OIOC Photo 2/4). He accompanied Sir Lepel Griffin as photographer on an architectural tour of Central India in 1882. Many of the resulting photographs were reproduced in collotype in Griffin's Famous monuments of Central India (1886). By the mid-1880s was a professional photographer. Official photographer to the Nizam of Hyderabad from 1884 with studios in Secunderabad and Indore. Appointed official photographer to the Viceroy Lord Dufferin in 1885. Bombay studio opened (?)1886. In 1892 he announced ‘the opening of a zenana photographic studio he has fitted up at Hyderabad. He had placed an English lady of high photographic attainments and well-known there [Mrs Leverick, wife of the editor of the Deccan Times], in charge of it. [1]
Art Photographic Studio, Raja Deen Dayal and Sons, Hornby Road, Bombay, (1902) (Maclean’s Guide to Bombay). [Not checked 1891-1901]. Helped in the business by his sons Dharam Chand and Gyan Chand. On the death of Dharam Chand in 1904 the Bombay and Indore studios were closed, while Gyan Chand looked after the Secunderabad studio. After Deen Dayal’s death the business continued by Gyan Chand (d. 1919), and by his son Ami Chand, who was still in charge of the business in 1979.
A brief biographical note of his career, was written by Deen Dayal, dated 18 July 1899, and entitled Short account of my photographic career by Lala Deen Dayal (in his own words) [Copied from a typescript of unknown origin, probably from a member of the family]. A few portions, indicated by ellipses, appear to have been omitted. A few obvious errors of spelling or sense have been silently corrected]:
I was born at Sardana near Meerut in 1844 and am by caste a Jain. I received the technical part of my education in Thomason’s Civil Engineering College, Roorkee, after which I was engaged in P.W. Secretariat office at Indore in 1866 as a Head Estimator and Draughtsman. In 1874 I began to study photography as an amateur, and was greatly encouraged in my efforts by Sir Henry Daly A.G., K.C.B., who was ever ready to patronise and help me as far as possible; through him I was able to secure a group of Lord Northbrook and friends during his visit to Indore and also a group of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales and Royal Party in 1875-76.
I accompanied Sir Henry Daly on his tour in Bundelkhand, photographing views, native chiefs, etc, etc....After his retirement I was patronised by the successive Agent General of C.I. Agency, and in 1882-83 I travelled throughout Bundelkhand with Sir Lepel Griffin and photographed almost all the ancient architecture of that country; these photos were afterwards brought [out] in book form by Sir Lepel Griffin and published and printed in the autotype process (permanent) by the ‘Autotype Company’ of London at the expense of the Government.
In 1885 I was able to secure a group of H.E. Lord Dufferin and Marquis of Ava with Sir Lepel Griffin, and having done some photographic work for Lady Dufferin which gave her entire satisfaction, I was subsequently appointed photographer to H.E. the Viceroy.
In addition to the above I may mention that my services were so much appreciated by Maharaja Holkar that he granted me a small Jagir in property...Maharaja Dhar also greatly appreciated my work...Three pages of The Graphic were devoted to my photos of the Delhi Camp of Exercise, and at frequent intervals pictures of any Indian event of importance.
Having found that the public greatly appreciated my views and a consequent demand for them having arisen, I took furlough for two years in order to complete my series.
Whilst at Simla I again secured two groups from H.E. the Viceroy (Lord Dufferin), a family and a ‘Legislative Council’ group, in addition to groups for Sir Frederick Roberts (being nominated for ‘Photographer to H.E. the Commander in Chief in India)...Sir Edward Bradford...Sir Alfred Lyall...Sir Auckland Colvin.
An enthusiastic review of the firm’s work was published in The Englishman of 15 March 1887:
At a time when the art of photography is attracting so much attention in India, it is interesting to observe that at least one of the Native practitioners maintains his place in the first rank of the profession. Lala Deen Dayal, of Indore, is known throughout India as one of the best photographers we have, and his recent appointment as photographer to His Excellency the Viceroy was thoroughly deserved. A portrait of Lord Dufferin is one of the latest of his productions, and it is one of the best photographs of His Excellency that we have seen and would compare favourably with the aptest [ablest?] achievements of our best-known European artists. Another of the reception of the Viceroy by His Highness the Maharaja Holkar, the group comprising Sir M. Wallace, Lord William Beresford, and other members of the staff, is also extremely good, the likeness in each case being true and clearly defined, and the arrangement showing an artist’s eye for composition and effect. the Maharaja is seated with the Viceroy, and is surrounded by ministers and officials, and this whole makes a remarkably telling picture.
It is not, however, in portraiture alone that Lala Deen Dayal excels. His extensive series of Indian views is a monument of artistic skill and patient labour, and no better memorial of a visit to the country could be commended to the notice of the traveller. Those in search of an appropriate present, wherewith to delight and astonish their friends at home, would do well to invest in a set of the wonderful pictures of Agra, Delhi and the old-world cities of Central India, as well as of our own modern English cities and our favourite hill resorts. Nothing could convey a more vivid idea of the beauties and wonders of ‘the land we live in’ - of its ancient civilisation and the lavish memorials of its departed splendour; its richly diversified vegetation and its crowds of mingled races; the solitary temple or Musjid, deserted save by the lingering devotee; the busy bazars and melas and bathing ghats; the sacred rivers, the rock-cut temples, and the communities of sacred apes; the palaces, the forts, the zenanas, the tombs, the beautiful lakes, all the striking scenes and incidents of the panorama with which we are familiar, and which yet possess for us an exhaustive interest. Here, too, the East and West meet, and the prosaic works of utility find a place. The grand architectural legacy of the Mughal Empire is surrounded by the achievements of modern engineering science...the canals and roads, and railways and bridges, which are the substantial gift of English practicality and enterprise. As illustrations of the various stages in the historical development of India these photographs have a very special interest while they will be universally admired for their artistic beauty.
India is prodigal of subjects for the lens, and it may be fairly said that no artist has made more of his opportunities than Lala Deen Dayal, who has roamed over the whole of Northern India, in pursuit of the beautiful, the characteristic, and the picturesque. He has levied rich tribute in the divinely dowered capital of Akbar, and he has gathered many a gem in Delhi, Secunderabad, Gwalior, Bundelkhund, Rewa, Ajmer, Jaipur, Ulwar, Bharatpur, Deeg, Bhopal, Sanchi, Malwa and Indore. On the west he has carried his search as far as Bombay, while on the East he is quite at home in the City of Palaces, investing many of our familiar views with quite a novel charm. From an artistic standpoint, the views of Darjeeling are by no means the least remarkable. The photographing of aerial effects has made wonderful progress in the past few years, and the Darjeeling specimens from the Indore studio are deserving of high praise. They are delicately shaded and present a bright, luminous appearance, the heaped up masses of cloud and the trailing diaphanous shroud of mist being clearly, and yet slightly, defined.
In any such collection, as a matter of course, one naturally turns to the views of Agra and the artist is seen at his best in his photographs of the famous buildings.
The Taj Mahal has been happily described by Sir William Hunter as a dream in marble, designed by Titans and finished by jewellers, and here we are able to at once the beautiful balance of this peerless edifice and the exquisite details of its decoration. The view taken from the river is, perhaps, the most successful attempt that has been made to grapple with the difficulty of presenting to the eye the whole mass of the building without dwarfing its vast proportions. groups of bathers in the foreground serve to guide the eye, and the towering mass of the dome rises against the sky with all the mingled grace and boldness of the original. The Pearl Mosque, in the Agra Fort, is also a grand photograph, and those who here behold the Moti Masjid for the first time will readily assent to the judgement which pronounces it the purest and loveliest house of prayer in the world. Another gem is the interior of the bath chamber in the Agra Fort Palace. The tracery with which the walls are entirely covered is a thing to stir enthusiasm even amid the treasures of Agra, and it is here photographed in a strong sidelight which brings into a relief of silver-like clearness every leaf and tendril of the magnificent design.
In striking contrast is the pillared entrance to the Diwan-i-Khas, where the broad smooth spaces adorned with inlaid work are lit in a subdued, level tone suggestive of dawn or eventide. Akbar’s tomb at Secundra, the tomb of his daughter at the same place; the interior of the famous Saman Burj in the Delhi Fort; the Lahore Gate of the Fort; the Jama Masjid of Delhi; Bharatpur Fort with its water-swept ramparts; the Sheesh Mahal at Amber; the City of Ajmer, with its background of fortified heights; the sacred ghats of Ujjain; the Palace of Bhopal; reflected in its placid waters; the restored Sanchi Stupa; the beautiful waterfall at Chichai near Rewah; the Tomb of Mahomed Ghouse at Gwalior; the famous Teli Mandir, these are a few of the photographs that are specially deserving of mention.
The list may be greatly extended, but individual taste comes into play, and, where one is inclined to admire the skill of the photographer or the artistic beauty of his subject, others are guided by their preference for photographs of historical or antiquarian interest. Out of such abundance it will be easy to satisfy all tastes, and there are many who will be grateful to us for having directed their attention to a genuine artist and his works that are too little known. The photographs can either be had direct from Lala Deen Dayal, at Lahore or from Messrs. Newman and Co., Calcutta.

  1. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society of India, vol. 5, January 1892, p. 10. 

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Internet biographies

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Wikipedia has a biography of this photographer.Show on this siteGo to website
Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website

Internet resources

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Raja Deen Dayal: The Prince of Photographers 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.135-136 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Lala Deen Dayal.] 
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