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HomeContents > People > Photographers > J.J. Gray

Names:
Born: John James Gray 
Dates:  1818, 8 January - 1882, 18 October
Born:  Scotland, Iverness
Died:  Belgium, Bruges
Active:  India
 
  

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for J.J. Gray
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

 
  
A planter in Maldah, Bengal, Gray took up photography as an amateur sometime in the mid-1850s. In 1855 he gave a paper, “On a Simple Method of Manipulation in the Calotype Process,” to the Photographic Society of Bengal, which would be published in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Gray was resourceful, working out a method of making silver nitrate by dissolving rupees in acid, and he exhibited photographs made by calotype and waxed paper as well as the air-pump process developed by John Stewart (1814 – 1887). As reported in the Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, in 1857 he exhibited “excellent views about the ruins of Gour [Gaur],” the ruined ancient Muslim city in West Bengal. That same year, Gray asked advice of the society concerning a new process that he intended to use to supply prints to Lady Charlotte Canning, a former lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and the wife of the governor-general of India. He finally joined the Photographic Society of Bengal in 1862 and continued to photograph. In 1868 W. Le F. Robinson, the commissioner of the Rajshahi Division, recommended Gray as “a very good photographer” who would be willing to take additional photographs of Gaur. 
  
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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J.J. Gray [Attributed to]
Portrait of J.J. Gray with his stereo camera 
1862-1865
 
  
Family history 
  
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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

 
Amateur, India
Planter, Maldah, and an active photographer from the mid-1850s at the latest. In 1855 he gave a paper to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, entitled On a simple method of manipulation in the calotype process. .[1] Exhibited six views (calotype, waxed paper and Stewart’s Process) of scenes at Gaur at Photographic Society of Bengal Exhibition of March 1857 (these views had been shown to the society’s meeting of 21 Jan 1857, when they were praised as ‘excellent views about the ruins of Gour...’). In a letter to the society in early 1857 he asks for details of Mr Lazarus’ (qv) instantaneous process, as he intends to use it to take photographs of the north side of the Dukhuil Durwaza for Lady Canning’s album.[2] Later writes to the society giving his account of making nitrate of silver with rupees. Same method as used by Mr Rowe (qv), while Mr Lazarus uses Smee’s galvanic battery.[3]
 
Joined Bengal Photographic Society, Feb 1862.[4]
 
‘Mr Gray, a planter at Maldah, who is also a very good photographer, would I dare say, be willing to take fresh photographs of these ruins [at Gaur] if asked to do so.’[5] 
  
 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, vol. XXIV, 1855, pp. 287-290. 
      
  2. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, no.2, 21 Jan 1857 
      
  3. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, no.3, 20 May 1857. 
      
  4. Λ Journal of the Photographic Society of Bengal, vol.1, no.1, 1 May 1862. 
      
  5. Λ Letter from W. Le F. Robinson, Officiating Commissioner of Rajshahye Division, of 26 Nov 1867, Bengal General Proceedings, no.110 of June 1868, IOR/P/432/4. 
      
 
  

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