About This Artwork

Samuel Bourne
English, 1834–1912

The Tree Fern, Prize Photo, 1863

Albumen silver print
29.6 x 24.4 cm

The Mary and Leigh Block Endowment Fund, 1998.21

Samuel Bourne learned photography in England, where he was active in the Nottingham Photographic Society, but it was in India that he made his photographic reputation. He arrived in Calcutta in early 1863, and published his adventures there as a series of articles in the British Journal of Photography. Bourne remained in India for seven years, producing—often under difficult conditions—over 2,500 architectural and landscape views of the Himalayan mountains and foothills, particularly around the town of Simla. Although a period ink inscription on the mount indicates that this image of a tree fern was a “prize photo,” the prize that Bourne won remains a mystery.

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