Works listed in this catalogue
Bourne & Shepherd Northern India and Kashmir {1872} SLV [PH]
Shepherd & Robertson Views of Agra, Delhi and Lucknow {1875?} SLV [PH]

Samuel Bourne (1834-1912) worked in the Northern Indian city of Simla (now Shimla) between 1863 and 1870, taking numerous remarkable photographs, using large cameras and the “collodion process” (for this technique, see also Francis Frith), involving on-the-spot processing in portable darkrooms, a method widely used in the 1850s-60s, but later replaced by the gelatin dry plate process.

Ollman (1983) describes the extraordinary photographic journeys Bourne made into Kashmir and other inaccessible locations, relying on large retinues of “coolies” and other assistants to transport his large quantities of equipment, set up camp, and so on.

From 1864, Bourne joined forces with the existing partnership of Charles Shepherd (active 1858-78) and Arthur Robertson (born in the early 1800s), previously based in Agra. The second album listed above was the work of Shepherd and Robertson, apparently prior to joining Bourne. The second, larger album of views of Northern India and Kashmir includes some photos signed by Shepherd & Robertson, and others by Bourne alone.

Robertson left the partnership in about 1868, Bourne returned to England in 1870, and Shepherd left in the 1880s. But the firm of Bourne and Shepherd continued to operate continuously, remarkably enough, until 2016, when it finally closed its office in Kolkata (Calcutta).

Besides the two sets of photos listed above, the SLV also holds an 1863 album by Bourne, titled Views of India, containing 62 gelatin silver photographs of Calcutta, Darjeeling etc. It is unclear exactly when this book, inscribed as presented to Robert Walpole, Secretary to the Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883/84, entered the library (possibly sometime after 1904/5). Walpole (1853-1928) migrated to Australia in the 1870s, and, following his involvement with the Calcutta Exhibition, became a “professional organizer,” working on behalf of the Victorian Employers’ Federation in particular.

Further Indian photographs by Bourne were acquired for the NGV in the 1970s.


For Bourne and his colleagues, see in particular Arthur Ollman, Samuel Bourne: Images of India, Untitled 33, The Friends of Photography, 1983; see also AKL 13 (1996), p.389; and a useful Wikipedia article on Bourne, citing John Falconer, India: Pioneering Photographers, London: British Library, 2001, and Robin Leman, ed., The Oxford Companion to the Photograph, OUP 2005. See also and

Bourne’s Views of India (1863), in the library’s Manuscripts Collection (MS 14954/2) is available online. For Walpole, see (biography by John Rickard, first published in ADB vol.12, 1990)

For photos by Bourne acquired for the NGV in the 1970s, see