The Jewels of the Pagoda
Tripe was a career military officer in India and, in the late 1850s, Government Photographer to the Madras Presidency. In just five years he made nearly one thousand views of India and Burma. Between December 1857 and April 1858, Tripe made an ambitious and difficult tour of India's southern districts in order to create a record for the government of the region's antiquities, scenes of historic importance, and natural phenomena. On a stop at the great temple at Srirangam, he recorded a splendid display of its treasures in a photograph that perfectly conveys the shimmering effect of sunlight on lustrous surfaces.
Linnaeus Tripe (British, Devonport (Plymouth Dock) 1822–1902 Devonport)
With the invention of photography, the eighteenth-century British passion for recording exotic lands and studies of the peoples in India was given new impetus. The earliest photography on the continent dates from 1840 in Calcutta, the political center of British India. The technology for photography arrived in India quickly became popular among the local rulers-many of whom employed photographers at their courts-as well as the British who had come to make their fortunes in the colony. For both populations, the new medium replaced painting as the method for recording the local landscape, architecture, people, and important events.