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Willoughby Wallace Hooper
A Vegetable Stall by the roadside at the Madras Lancer Lines, [Mandalay]
10.1 x 5.3 cm
Shelfmark: Photo 312/(78), Item number: 31278
Curatorial description (Accessed: 27 February 2017)
Photograph of a vegetable stall on the roadside at the Madras Lancer Lines in Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar), taken by Willoughby Wallace Hooper in 1886. The photograph is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86), published in 1887 as ‘Burmah: a series of one hundred photographs illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force to that country, from the embarkation at Madras, 1st Nov, 1885, to the capture of King Theebaw, with many views of Mandalay and surrounding country, native life and industries’. Two editions were issued, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, along with a set of lantern slides. Hooper made the series while serving as Provost Marshal with the British Expeditionary Force, which entered Mandalay, the Burmese royal capital, on 28 November 1885. The Burmese king, Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) was deposed and exiled to India and a military occupation of the city began. The war culminated in the annexation of Upper Burma by the British on 1 January 1886. A caption by Hooper accompanies the photograph: “In these temporary erections along the sides of the streets the common vegetables of the country are sold by women. No great variety is produced here, pumpkins, beans of various kinds, peas, brinjals, and of course chillies, being the principal kinds. The inhabitants live on vegetables to a great extent, and a brisk trade is also carried on with the Sepoys and the followers of the Native and European Regiments.” Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer and his photographs of the war in Burma are considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. The series is also notable for the political scandal which arose following allegations by a journalist that Hooper had acted sadistically in the process of photographing the execution by firing squad of Burmese rebels. The subsequent court of inquiry concluded that he had behaved in a “callous and indecorous” way and the affair raised issues of the ethical role of the photographer in documenting human suffering and the conduct of the British military during a colonial war.