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

Between Princely India and the British Raj: The Photography of Raja Deen Dayal
  • Closed
April 20, 2013 to January 12, 2014
Raja Deen Dayal (1844 – 1905) was the first Indian photographer to earn international renown.


Noted for remarkable beauty, aesthetic nuance and technical skill, Deen Dayal's photographs capture the architectural heritage of India, its landscape and people, and provide a lens through which we can explore a dynamic time in India's history and the role Deen Dayal had in fashioning a new identity for an emerging nation.

Born in Sardhana, near Delhi, he trained as a surveyor in the mid-1860s and took up photography in the mid-1870s. Over the course of his remarkable career, he ran three successful studios, had over fifty staff, and produced more than 30,000 images. In 1894, he was appointed court photographer to the sixth Nizam of Hyderabad, one of the wealthiest men in the world at the time.

The haunting beauty of his images reflect the extraordinary talent of Deen Dayal as a master of the photographic process, while his ability to make the images speak to the viewer played a critical role in how India's past came to be visualized. His photographs remain some of the most iconic views of India today.

This exhibition features over 100 works from three major collections, including the ROM's collection of photograph albums produced by his studio in the latter decades of the 19th century. It also features one of the cameras used by the Dayal Studio in the last decade of the 19th century.

The exhibition is presented in association with The Alkazi Collection of Photography, New Delhi, and coincides with a major new publication "Raja Deen Dayal: Artist-Photographer in 19th-century India." It is a feature exhibition of the 2013 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. CONTACT is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Celebrate Ontario, the Ontario Arts Council and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

Authored by: Cheryl Fraser