Bourne, Samuel, 1834 -1912 (photographer)
- Existence: 1834 - 1912
Samuel Bourne was born in Mucklestone, Staffordshire in 1834 (Turner 1996). After being educated by a clergyman near Fairburn, he secured a job with Moore and Robinson's Bank, Nottingham in 1855. His photographic activities started at this time: 'It was a hobby, of course, at first ... I possessed myself of a little camera, which cost me £5, soon after I came to Nottingham. I used to amuse myself by taking photographs of the market place from the Bank window ... I had not had the opportunity to do much while I was at the Bank' (The Trader, 27 April 1912, p.2).
In 1858 Bourne made a photographic tour of the Lake District and in 1859 displayed photographs at the Nottingham Photographic Society Exhibition. In the following year his photographs were also shown in London and his work was well received at the London International Exhibition of 1862. In this year he gave up his position at the bank and set sail for India to work as a professional photographer, arriving in Calcutta early in 1863. While in Calcutta he attended a meeting of the Bengal Photographic Society and commented on the number of members as well as the flourishing state of commercial photography in general in the city. The following month he left for Simla, visiting en route Benares (now Varanasi), Agra, Delhi and Umballa. In Simla he commenced photographic work and on 29 July 1863 left the hill station for a trip into the Himalayas. With a retinue of 30 he travelled to Chini, 160 miles north-east of Simla, and spent some time photographing in the Chini-Sutlej River area before heading west to Spiti and returning to Simla on 12 October with 147 negatives. At around this time Bourne entered into the first of the commercial partnerships which was later to become the firm of Bourne and Shepherd and which still flourishes to this day in Calcutta.
In the following year Bourne set out on the longest of his expeditions, a nine month trip to Kashmir. Leaving Lahore on 17 March he journeyed north-east to Kangra and from there, via Byjnath, Holta, Dhurmsala (now Dharmsala) and Dalhousie, travelled to Chamba. He left Chamba for Kashmir on 8 June and by the middle of the month had reached the Chenab Valley. The following weeks were spent photographing the scenery of Kashmir (see Y3022C/4, 12-16) before proceeding to Srinagar, where he stopped for some weeks, sight seeing and photographing (see Y3022C/6-11), before continuing his journey on 15 September. The return journey took in the Sind Valley, Baramula, Murree, Delhi and Cawnpore (now Kanpur) before arriving in Lucknow (see Y3022C/39-46) on Christmas Eve 1864.
Bourne's third and last major trip was his most ambitious, consisting of a six month journey in the Himalayas with the goal of reaching and photographing the source of the Ganges (see Y3022C/17-38). He left Simla in the company of Dr. G.R. Playfair on 3 July 1866 and travelled with him to the Spiti River where they parted company. Bourne then continued on to the Manining Pass, the junction of the Spiti and Sutlej Rivers and then returned to Sungnam and Chini having amassed 62 negatives. He spent some time photographing the Rogi Cliffs (which he had first visited in 1863) and after photographing the glacier at the source of the Buspa, journeyed on to the foot of the Gangtori Glacier where he photographed the Bhagarathi (now Bhagirathi), one of the sources of the Ganges, issuing from the mouth of the ice cave. His return journey took in Agora, Mussorie (now Mussoorie), Roorkie (now Roorkee), Meerut and Naini Tal and Bourne arrived in Simla in time for Christmas 1866.
Bourne had returned to England and married Mary Tolley in 1867 before leaving India for good in 1870 or 1871, returning to Nottingham where he founded a cotton-doubling business with his brother-in-law J.B. Tolley. At some time after his return to England he disposed of his interests in Bourne and Shepherd. Although continuing to photograph as a relaxation, much of his creative energies from this time onwards was devoted to water-colour painting. He died in Nottingham on 24 April 1912.
Bourne is justly regarded as one of the finest commercial photographers of the 19th century, allying a fine compositional flair and high technical expertise to an adventurous outlook in seeking out suitably 'picturesque' views to record. He was also evidently a shrewd businessman and an able publicist for his own work, no doubt stimulating demand by the series of long articles detailing his photographic expeditions in India which appeared in The British Journal of Photography between 1863 and 1870.
Likenesses: See: Falconer, John (2001), 'India: pioneering photographers 1850-1900', London: The British Library, p.27.
Bourne, Samuel (c.1864), 'Scenery in the Himalayas and the highlands of Perthshire', [S.l.]: [The Author].
Bourne, Samuel (c.1870), 'India', a topographical photograph album, [S.l.]: [The Author].
Bourne, Samuel (18--), 'Scenes in Kashmir and northern India', [S.l.].
Bourne, Samuel (1863), 'Photography in the East', 'The British Journal of Photography', vol. X, no.193, 1 July, pp.268-270 and no.197, 1 September, pp.345-347.
Bourne, Samuel (1864), 'Ten weeks with the camera in the Himalayas', 'The British Journal of Photography', vol. XI, no. 207, 1 February, pp.50-51 and no. 208, 15 February, pp.69-70.
Bourne, Samuel (1866-1867), 'Narrative of a photographic trip to Kashmir (Cashmere) and adjacent districts', 'The British Journal of Photography', vol. XIII, no. 335, 5 October, no. 337, 19 October, no. 339, 2 November, no. 342, 23 November, no. 344, 7 December, no. 347, 28 December, vol. XIV, no. 348, 4 January, no. 351, 25 January and no. 353, 8 February.
Bourne, Samuel (1869-1870), 'A photographic journey through the higher Himalayas', 'The British Journal of Photography', vol. XVI, no. 499, 26 November, no. 500, 3 December, no. 502, 17 December, no. 503, 24 December, no. 504, 31 December, vol. XVII, no. 506, 14 January, no. 508, 28 January, no. 511, 18 February, no. 513, 4 March, no. 515, 18 March and no. 517, 1 April.
British Journal of Photography (1 February 1860 and 1 January 1862). Heathcote, Pauline F. (1982), 'Samuel Bourne of Nottingham', 'History of Photography', vol. 6, no. 2, April, pp.99-112.
The Nottingham Athenaeum Society's Magazine (August 1860). Nottingham Guardian (25 April 1912).
Nottingham Review (7 January 1859).
The Trader (27 April 1912).
Turner, Jane ed. (1996), 'The dictionary of art', vol. 4, London: Macmillan Publishers Limited.
Found in 8 Collections and/or Records:
317 x 192 mm. Duplicate of Y3022I/81. Samuel Bourne (no 1324).
278 x 235 mm. Duplicate of Y3022G/57. Samuel Bourne, number 1732.
290 x 233 mm. Duplicate of Y30221/53.
287 x 232 mm. View looking along the Marqual Canal, Srinagar: duplicate of Y3022C/8.
314 x 191 mm. View looking NW from the Ochterlony Monument, with Government House in the centre of the print. Duplicate of Y3022A/3. Photograph by Samuel Bourne (no 1717).
303 x 190 mm. Duplicate of Y3022G/84. Bourne (no. 1711).