The Museum’s photographs of Africa include
a collection of prints by Richard Buchta from Sudan and Uganda in 1878-9,
one of the earliest sets of photographs of the African interior (view).
Many of the Museum’s African collections are unique records of anthropological
fieldwork and travel: the French explorer and ethnographer Robert Hottot
in Congo (1906–8) (view
exhibition); Charles W. Hobley in Kenya (1902) (view);
anthropologist Robert S. Rattray in Ashanti, Ghana (1920s); anthropologist
Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard in Sudan (1926–36) (view);
anthropologist Godfrey Lienhardt in Sudan (1947–51) (view);
explorer Wilfred Thesiger in Sudan (view),
Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya and Tanzania (1937–1980s). A number of other
collections have been extensively researched and published, such as the
photographs by Lawrence and Selkirk of San prisoners in Cape Town (1870-1),
and photographs from the Punitive Expedition to Benin (1897). In 2010
the Museum organised the major exhibition and publication Wilfred
Thesiger in Africa.
Zande binza (witchdoctor), Sudan,
by Richard Buchta, 1879.
The Museum’s North American material,
whilst more limited than that found in North American collections,
is nonetheless one of the most significant in the UK, including a series
of early portraits of chiefs who visited Washington DC in 1856-7, portraits
by C.M. Bell before 1884 and J. Hillers’s photographs from the US Geological
Survey to the southwest in 1878. In 1996 the Museum organised
the major exhibition Native American Photographs: Nineteenth-Century
Images from the Collections (18 May – 28 September 1996), and
more information about the Museum’s holdings is available online
The Museum was a major lender of original material to one of the most
significant UK exhibitions of North American photography in recent
Nations: Journeys in American Photography (Barbican Art Gallery,
Studio portrait of Hekha'ka Ma'ni
[Walking Elk], by Julian Vannerson
& James E. McClees, 1858–9.
South America has been one of the
strongest areas of recent collecting
activity by the Museum. Early collections include prints by missionary
Andrew Pride in the Gran Chaco (circa 1900) and Charles Kroehle in
Peru (circa 1890). Recent acquisitions have included extensive and
significant field archives, such as that of ethnobiologist Darrell
Posey in Brazil (1980s); anthropologist Peter Rivière in Brazil/Surinam
(1960s/70s); Brian Moser and Donald Tayler’s ethnographic expedition
to Colombia (1960-1) as well as that of Jonathan Ambache and Richard
Saumarez Smith to the same country (1965).
Two Kayapó boys, Gorotire, Brazil,
by Darrell Posey, 1980s.
Undoubtedly the major strength of the Museum’s Asian photograph
collection is its Tibetan collection, which ranks as one of the most
significant in the world. A major AHRC research project in 2003-5 made
some 6000 of the Museum’s Tibetan
photographs taken between 1920 and 1950 available online, alongside
a wealth of documentary and interactive material. Other significant collections
from the continent are those taken in Nagaland: collections by Robert
Woodthorpe (1870s-90s), J.H. Hutton (1920s), Henry Balfour (1920s), Charles
Pawsey (1920s), Ursula Graham Bower (1930s-40s), Charles Robert Stonor
(1940s) and Milada Ganguli (1970s), make this one of the most significant
archives from the colonial period in north-east India. Other notable
collections include photographs by Henry Edward Laver along the Lower
Yangtze from Shanghai (1906-8), Michael Aris in Bhutan (1960s onwards),
photographs by G. Harvey in Shan State, Burma (1920s), Wilfred Thesiger
in Pakistan and Afghanistan (1950s-60s), curator of the Raffles Museum
Carl Gibson-Hill’s photographs of the Malay Peninsula and Singapore (1940s-50s),
and Charles Hose’s photographs from Sarawak (1890s).
Portrait of Tsarong in Lhasa, by Frederick Spencer Chapman,
The Museum’s Australian collections
are internationally significant, and include the earliest known photograph of an indigenous South Australian, known as Tenberry, from the early 1850s. The Museum also has a set of ten prints
dating to the 1870s that derive from those originally collected by
Amalie Dietrich for the Godeffroy Museum (Hamburg) in the 1860s in
online article). There are also important nineteenth-century
prints by photographers such as Kerry and Co. (Sydney), Thomas Jetson
Washbourne (Melbourne), John William Lindt (Grafton, New South Wales),
Paul Foelsche (Darwin), Frederick Kruger at Coranderrk and John Watt
Beattie and Charles Alfred Woolley (Tasmania). Significant field
collections include those from Northern Territory by Elsie Masson
(1912-14), Walter Baldwin Spencer and Frank Gillen (1890s onwards)
and Mervyn John Holmes (about 1912). Recent significant acquisitions
include the field photographs of anthropologist Peter Worsley from
Groote Eylandt (1950-1).
Prints showing images available
from Kerry's studio, Sydney, 1898.
Although not historically a major area of collecting activity, the
Museum’s European collection nonetheless contains interesting
and important nineteenth-century material. The ethnographic study of
European peoples was far more integral to anthropological thinking in
the nineteenth century than in the twentieth, and Pitt-Rivers himself
collected and displayed photographs of Europeans for comparative purposes.
Many of the Museum’s most significant Europeanphotographs are cartes-de-visite
of Scandinavian subjects, especially the Sami people of Finland, collected
by the archaeologist Arthur Evans in the 1870s, and those copied by Carl
Dammann of Hamburg, also in the 1870s. Many early images of European
peoples are also contained in an early series made for the Musée de Paris
between 1862 and 1865. The Museum also has a number of interesting late
nineteenth-century images of Ireland, such as those by Robert J. Welch,
a Belfast-born commercial photographer. Other significant collections
from eastern Europe include those by Fanny Foster in Yugoslavia from
the 1920s onwards, John F. Baddeley in the Caucasus in the late 1890s,
and Edith Durham’s photographs from Albania and the Balkans in the early
Carte-de-visite of Finnish couple,
collected by Arthur Evans in 1873.
The Middle East collections of the
Museum are dominated by a single internationally-significant collection,
that of the traveler and explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger, whose writings
on Arabia became classics of twentieth-century travel literature. The
Museum formally acquired the Thesiger Collection in 2004 from the UK
Government via its art in lieu of inheritance tax scheme.Thesiger’s
photographs include rare early images of Arabia (1940s), the marshes
of southern Iraq (1950s), Iran (1960s) and Iraqi Kurdistan (1940s-1950s),
amongst other places. Other significant collections include photographs
by Robert E. Cheesman from Iraq and Saudi Arabia (1920s), and a rare
set of prints from the 1920s by the Tehran-based photographer Antoin
Interior of mudhif (guesthouse), Iraq,
by Wilfred Thesiger, 1958.
The Museum’s Pacific collections
are internationally significant. Although not the largest (numbering
some 10,000 items), it is extremely rich in early images and documentation.
It includes a collection of photographs taken for C. F. Wood in Fiji,
Samoa and Ellice Islands in 1873, as well as a well-documented
collection by William A. D. Acland from expeditions to Vanuatu and
Samoa in the 1880s.The nineteenth-century material also includes examples
from many important colonial photographers, such as Thomas Andrew in
Samoa, Josiah Martin in New Zealand and the Dufty Brothers in Fiji.
There is a group of images from the Burton Brothers’s 1885 “Coral Islands”
series (from Fiji, Tonga and Samoa) with original stamped mounts. There
are also important field collections by Diamond Jenness (Massim, 1911-12),
A. C. Hocart (Fiji, circa 1910), and Beatrice Blackwood in Papua New
Guinea, New Britain and the Solomon Islands (1930s). The Museum also
holds one of the most significant photograph and manuscript collections
relating to the New Zealand guide and personality Makereti (1873-1930),
who was associated with the Museum.
Carte-de-visite of two men of New
Caledonia by Edward Henry Dufty,
about 1877. PRM 1998.276.57.