Exhibitions/ Art Object

Taj Mahal

Artist:
John Murray (British, Blackhouse, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 1809–1898 Sheringham, Norfolk county, England)
Date:
ca. 1855
Medium:
Waxed paper negative
Dimensions:
39.3 x 46.5 cm (15 1/2 x 18 5/16 in.)
Classification:
Negatives
Credit Line:
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1997
Accession Number:
1997.382.58
Not on view
With unique authority, the camera offered nineteenth-century European viewers and armchair travellers a glimpse of the exotic, far-flung corners of the British Empire. Dr. John Murray, employed in the medical service of the Army of the East India Company, took up photography in the early 1850s.
At a time when photographic emulsions were not equally sensitive to all colors of the spectrum, most photographers found it impossible to achieve proper exposure of both landscape and sky in a single picture. For instance, if the negative was properly exposed for buildings, the sky would often appear faded and blotchy. Murray solved this problem by blacking out the sky on his waxed paper negative so that, when printed, the heavens above the Taj Mahal would appear limpid and radiant.
John Murray, grandson of the photographer; [Sean Thackrey, San Francisco]; Rubel Collection; [Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Fine Photography, New York]

Sky blocked out with black pigment
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