[The Taj Mahal from the Banks of the Yamuna River]
The Taj Mahal, built by Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, between 1632 and 1645 is among the most beautiful buildings in the world. Perhaps the finest example of late Indian Muslim architecture, the white marble tomb sits in a walled garden, its domes serenely reflected in an oblong pool. Next to it stands its mirror image, a virtual replica repeated for symmetry. Characteristically, Murray did not limit himself to the axial point of view, so dear to visitors, which displays the Taj and its reflected image to full advantage. Instead, he made several views that describe its actual context. In one, the building looms up beyond the garden of a paper factory; here, it appears sandwiched between the neighboring mosques. Seen from a crumbling parapet above the Yamuna River and wholly ignored by the two men squatting there, the pavilions appear as fantastic remnants of Mughal glory, a sublime architectural parade stranded in the middle of the nineteenth century.
John Murray (British, Blackhouse, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 1809–1898 Sheringham, Norfolk county, England)
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.