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HomeContents > People > Photographers > William H. Pigou

Names:
Born: William Harry Pigou 
Other: Dr. Pigou 
Other: W.H. Pigou 
Other: William Pigou 
Dates:  1818, July - 1858, 10 September
Active:  India
 
  
Dr William Henry Pigou served in the Indian Medical Service in Bombay 1841-1858. Pigou succeeded Thomas Biggs as official Government Photographer, Bombay Presidency 1855-1857. Early in 1865, in his official capacity, Sir Bartle Frere, a member of the Viceroy‘s council and his confidential adviser, supervised a photographic survey of the monuments of Bijapur and Ahmadabad by Dr. Pigou and Thomas Biggs.

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Approved biography for William H. Pigou
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

 
  
When Captain Thomas Biggs recommended Dr. Pigou, of the Indian Medical Service (Bombay), to replace him as official photographer for the Bombay Presidency in 1855, he pointed out that “besides professing a good knowledge of chemistry, Pigou has the advantage of several years experience in Photography in this country,” a familiarity essential for coping with the demands of the hot climate. In his new position Pigou struggled with the bureaucracy over equipment and supplies but began producing high-quality waxed-paper negatives. Records of his service in India show that the Court of Directors was very pleased with his work, praising the photographs as “of the highest merit as works of Art.” Facing a serious shortage of artillery officers, the army commanded his return to service in May 1857. This order was temporarily suspended, but Pigou’s health had suffered during two summers of photographic expeditions. At forty-one he died from a “disease of the brain.” His estate was ordered to relinquish his hundreds of waxed-paper negatives to the government. 
  
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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Portraits 
  
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John Falconer, British Library 
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia

 
Amateur, India
Son of Harry and Margaret Pigou of St Giles Street, Northampton; baptised at St Giles’, Northampton, 13 Aug 1818; father’s profession given as ‘Esq’, although his mother is noted in 1841 as being the widow of Lieutenant Harry Pigou, and resident at 13 Lower Durnford Street, Plymouth; Indian Medical Service (Bombay), 1841-58. Died at Poona (Pune) from ‘disease of the brain’, 10 September 1858, and was buried there the same day.
 
In the mid-1850s Pigou and T.H. Biggs were employed to take photographs of architecture at Bijapur, Dharwar and Mysore. Pigou succeeded Biggs as Government Photographer, Bombay Presidency from December 1855 until 1857. Some of his photographs appear in M. Taylor and J. Fergusson, Architecture in Dharwar and Mysore (1861).
[IOR/L/MIL/9/388/ff.153-59; IOR/N/3/32/f.277] 
  
 
  

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