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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Samuel Bourne

Joint: Bourne & Shepherd 
Joint: Howard, Bourne and Shepherd 
Dates:  1834, 30 October - 1912, April
Born:  Great Britain, Staffordshire, Mucklestone [Shropshire, Muccleston]
Active:  England / India / Himalayas
English photographer who arrived in India in early 1863. During the summer of that year Bourne traveled to the Himalayas where he states in an article in the British Journal of Photography, he decided “to see what elements of beauty and grandeur lay concealed in some of the higher and little known regions of the Himalayas.” This was followed by two more excursions into the Cashmere [Kashmir] and the Himalayas (1865-1866). Bourne’s determination to photograph the most picturesque and remote areas of Northern India resulted in the finest examples of scenic photography ever produced by a single photographer. His travels and photographic work was recorded in a string of articles in the British Journal of Photography in the late 1860s.
By 1865 he had established a partnership with Colin Shepherd in the hill town of Simla. And additional studios were established in Calcutta (1867) and Bombay (1870). With more than 2200 images in his catalog by the time he left India seven years later, in 1870, Bourne has to be considered one of the finest artistic photographers of his time.

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

Commercial, India
The son of a Staffordshire farmer, Bourne was a bank clerk and amateur photographer in Nottingham before arriving in India in early 1863. Set up firm of Howard and Bourne in Simla in March 1863; this became Howard, Bourne and Shepherd by November 1863 and Bourne and Shepherd from 1865 to the present day. Additional studios opened in Calcutta (1867) and Bombay (1870). Bourne made three historic photographic expeditions in Kashmir and the Himalayas in the course of the 1860s (described at length in a series of letters to the British Journal of Photography) and finally left the sub-continent in 1870.
Howard, Bourne, and Shepherd, photographers, Simla, 1868, 1869 (Thacker’s).
Bourne and Shepherd, 3 Chowringhee Road, Calcutta, 1869 (Thacker’s)
Bourne and Shepherd, Delhi, 1869 (Thacker’s).
Bourne and Shepherd, Rampart Row, Bombay, 1875-87 (Maclean’s Guide to Bombay).
Bourne and Shepherd, Rampart Row, Bombay, 1877-83(The Times of India Calendar and Directory).
Bourne and Shepherd, Esplanade Road, 1884-(86) (Times of India Calendar and Directory).
Bourne and Shepherd, Esplanade Road, Bombay, 1888-(1902) (Maclean’s Guide to Bombay).
Showed photographs at the Paris Exhibition of 1867: ‘Messrs. Bourne and Shepherd show twelve of their views in India, three being placed in a frame horizontally. The size is about 12x10, and the pictures are very excellent. Perhaps some of these pictures look a little dark, and that appearance is increased by the extremely dark tone of the whole of the prints.’ (‘Aur. Chlor.’, Paris Universal Exhibition, The British Journal of Photography, vol. 14, 23 August 1867, p. 399).
Shortly after taking charge of the district last year the Dharmakarta Siva Ram Iyer applied to me to issue a notice prohibiting Europeans visiting the [Perur] Pagoda...I decline to accede to this request. A short time after this, (the petition fixes the date at the 10th November,) Mr Bourne, of the firm of Bourne and Shephard [sic], the Calcutta photographers, came to Coimbatore and asked me whether the Pagoda at Peyroor [Perur] which he had seen mentioned in Murray’s handbook was worth photographing. I advised him to judge for himself and rode out to Peyroor with him the following morning. On our arrival a man, who I was informed was the Devassom Monigar, in the most insolent manner opposed our entrance, and flourishing an impertinently worded notice (copy enclosed) in our faces informed us that the Dharmakarta had given orders that we were not to be admitted...Though much annoyed at the insult which had been offered to me, I contented myself with addressing the crowd who had assembled, asking whether any objection had ever been made to gentlemen inspecting the pagoda. Two or three came forward and informed me that no objection had ever been raised previous to the appointment of the present Dharmakarta, and that so far as they the residents of the place were concerned we were wlcome to inspect the building. We were then allowed to pass in, and the Brahmins who accompanied us were most civil and obliging in pointing out the different objects of interest to us...[1]

  1. Λ H.E. Sullivan, Acting Collector of Coimbatore, to the Acting Chief Secretary to Government, Fort St George, dated Coimbatore, 7 February 1870, Madras Public Proceedings, 30 March 1870, IOR/P/439/10 pp. 287-88. 

Visual indexes

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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
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
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Internet resources

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Samuel Bourne ... 
Samuel Bourne's India ... 
Brown University Library, Special Collections, Anne S. K. Brown Military Collections 

Printed biographies

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

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.73 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.75 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Samuel Bourne.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.452 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.91-92 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 
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