Captain Linnaeus Tripe is best known for his photography work capturing the ancient universe of India and Burma, for a good decade or so, during the 19th Century. These photographs, forming part of an exhibition at V&A Museum from 24 June to 11 October 2015, are in the flesh of the what the region looked like back then – mostly marshlands, trees, untamed valleys and forests, with a small group of princely rulers and their local chieftain presiding over the huge lands.
There was a foothold of early architectural sites, however, as can be seen in the photographs depicting Gautama Buddha, near the Wooden Bridge. The Captain was born in Devonport and later pursued a career in the East India Company army, during which time he decided to take photographs of the region to reflect the times and accurately document the lands, as they were then discovered.
More than sixty photographs have been collected to showcase the space of the two countries, inclusive of it’s monuments and historic sites, rarely visited by anyone from the West. His photographs are pure surveyor-material, but he manages to capture the whole frame, with the imaginative breadth of an artist. Photography back then was still a new form of thought, so the pictures might be dull and grainy in quality, but they are nonetheless vivid and expressive enough.