One of the first photographers appointed by the British government, Linnaeus Tripe was enlisted to document historic buildings and religious temples. From March to April 1858, Tripe photographed Thanjavur’s renowned “Great Pagoda,” the Rajaraesvara temple that is one of South India’s greatest Chola temple complexes. Tripe’s dramatic compositions and painted-in skies enhance the natural beauty of the 11th-century structure. The British considered themselves stewards of India’s monuments following the assumption of Crown rule in 1858, and pictures such as Tripe’s were published with text suggesting that under colonial control “a brighter day has already dawned in India.”

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Linnaeus Tripe, British, 1822–1902
Tanjore. Great Pagoda. South Facade of Small Chapel
The South Facade of Subrahmanya Swami's Temple
March/April 1858
Albumen silver print from paper negative
Image: 11 9/16 × 14 5/16 in. (29.4 × 36.4 cm) Mount: 17 1/4 × 22 1/2 in. (43.8 × 57.2 cm)
Credit Line

The Manfred Heiting Collection

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

ex-collection Newberry Library, Chicago; Sotheby's, New York, October 31, 1989, lot 12;