Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal


The ROM Presents First Solo North American Exhibition of

Famous 19thCentury Indian Photographer


 “Raja Deen Dayal was a visionary photographer whose artistic eye, technical skill, and good business sense made him arguably the most successful photographer in late nineteenth-century India,” Dr. Deepali Dewan, ROM Senior Curator.  

(Toronto, Ontario – March 28, 2013)  The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) presents Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal, a feature exhibition in this year’s Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, highlighting the photographic work of Raja Deen Dayal (1844-1905), one of the most renowned photographers in 19th-century India.  The exhibition, which takes place in the ROM’s Level 3, Hilary and Galen Weston Wing, from April 20, 2013 through until January 12th 2014, is presented in association with The Alkazi Collection of Photography, New Delhi. It is inspired by a major new publication, Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-century India (Mapin and The Alkazi Collection of Photography, 2013), co-authored by the exhibition curators, ROM Senior Curator Dr. Deepali Dewan & art historian Dr. Deborah Hutton, of The College of New Jersey. This publication, and by extension the exhibition, are based on almost a decade of archival research.

The exhibition brings together more than 100 works of art, culled from three major international collections: the ROM’s collection of large, leather-bound photo albums produced by the firm Raja Deen Dayal & Sons and photographs from the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts and The Alkazi Collection of Photography, New Delhi. There will also be a vintage Dallmeyer camera, once belonging to Dayal’s studio, on view.  

In order to accurately capture Dayal’s professional trajectory, Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal consists of four thematic sections. The Business of Photography lays out the inner workings of the firm of Raja Deen Dayal & Sons including the types of commissions they received and how much they charged. Civil Works and Princely States examines how Dayal’s earliest photographs were produced in the context of colonial public works. Royal Photographer: Hyderabad explores Dayal’s role as court photographer to Mahbub Ali Khan, the sixth Nizam, one of the wealthiest men of his time.  The Art of Portraiture shows how Dayal’s various studios thrived in and indeed helped produce a modern age with new ways of perceiving the self.

Dr. Deepali Dewan, ROM Senior Curator, says, “Through this exhibition, ROM visitors will experience the legacy of a photographer who captured an important moment in India’s history. The vintage prints are stunning and provide a viewing experience we don’t have access to in our digital age.”

“From his work as an amateur photographer with the Central Indian Agency to the tens of thousands of stunning images of Indian life have stood the test of time, we are pleased to include Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal as a featured exhibition in CONTACT 2013,” says Bonnie Rubenstein, Artistic Director of Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Between Princely India & the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal is a feature exhibition of the 2013 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Field of Vision. The internationally renowned festival takes place during the month of May at various locations throughout the Greater Toronto Area.


ROM Members, visitors and CONTACT patrons are encouraged to take in the programming that will complement this exhibition. On Thursday, May 9, join us for Raja Deen Dayal: Revealed. This special lecture by exhibition co-curators, Dr. Deepali Dewan & Dr. Deborah Hutton, offers an intimate look at their research. This event doubles as a book launch for their co-authored publication Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in Nineteenth-Century India (Mapin and The Alkazi Collection of Photography, 2013). Further details are available online at:

Put away your winter boots and dust off your dancing shoes – ROM Friday Night Live returns on Friday, May 3.  In the true spirit of #FNLROM, each week is a fresh new event with themed programming.   This season, the ROM celebrates the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival at #FNLROM on Friday May 10 with a night expressly dedicated to celebrate all things photographic. It features this exhibition, along with the ROM Contemporary Culture exhibition Sebastião Salgado: GENESIS, which opens on Saturday, May 4.  For more information on this exciting night as it becomes available visit:

On Saturday, May 11, the ROM is pleased to present South Asian Heritage Day. Bring the whole family out for a fun-filled day featuring live performances, hands-on activities for kids, shopping, and dining. This includes film screenings, a kite display, storytelling and authentic South Asian cuisine.  All South Asian Heritage Day activities are included with general admission and free for ROM Members.  Discounted admission tickets are available online. Please visit for more information.

Photographer Raja Deen Dayal (1844-1905)

Raja Deen Dayal was born in Sardhana, India in 1844 and began his photography career with the Public Works Department of the Central India Agency in Indore. By the mid 1870s, Dayal was becoming a master in the delicate art of developing glass plate negatives and albumen prints. Ever the consummate businessman, Dayal counted the elite of British and Indian society amongst his clients. In 1885, Dayal took a two-year furlough and then left his government job to become an independent commercial photographer, eventually opening three successful studios and employing a staff of over fifty. He won a number of medals at international exhibitions and contributed regularly to The Graphic, a London-based news weekly. In 1894, he was appointed the official court photographer to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, one of the wealthiest men in the world.  His also became the first Indian firm to receive the Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria. Over the course of his remarkable career, Dayal produced more than 30,000 images, many of which remain some of the most iconic views of India today.

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

CONTACT is an annual festival of photography in Toronto, during the month of May, with over 1500 local, national and international artists exhibiting at more than 175 venues. Founded as a not-for-profit organization in 1997 and granted charitable status in 2011, the festival is devoted to celebrating, and fostering the art and profession of photography. It stimulates excitement and discussion among a diverse audience that has grown to over 1.9 million visits. CONTACT is the largest photography event in the world, and a premier cultural event in Canada. For more information:




CONTACT is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Celebrate Ontario, Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, and the Ontario Arts Council.