BURMESE DAZE, OR, A BRITISH OASIS IN PICTURES AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn has been busily cataloging rare items from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection. She has most recently been working through some materials documenting British rule in India. Here is her report:

Enjoyment of multiculturalism is essential to living in Miami. On any given day, I can hear six different languages spoken at nearby tables in the South Beach coffee shop where I habitually sip my mocha. I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to make friends from all across the world. The people I know from India, for example, are beautiful, intelligent, funny and wise. In my personal experiences with American yogi culture, much philosophy and lifestyle choices are gleaned from Indian history and civilization. However, India’s true allure, subjugation to, and relationships with the West are long and complex.

jordanDharma

Jordan Bloom & Batya Metalitz. Dharma Studio, Coconut Grove.

This one-of-a-kind photograph album from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection illustrates the appeal of British occupied India in the 1890s from the perspective of Captain Henry Marshall Barnes (18th Company, Southern Division, Royal Artillery).

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 GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Original photographic prints reflect a British view of a peaceful and prosperous time in Burma, Rangoon and Ceylon. Queen Victoria reigned as Empress of India. This group shot shows the members of Barnes’s company in front of the famous Golden Pagoda.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

When in India, do as the British do: the British national sport of cricket was being played just as though the teams were still across the pond.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 The Irrawaddy River, which spanned Burma, was essential for trade and travel.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The makeshift vernacular structures of this native village contrast the elaborate architecture of the temple.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

At this point in history, the immensely talented and prolific photographer, Felice Beato, set up his own studio in Mandalay. Born in Italy and raised in Great Britain, Beato spearheaded the photojournalistic movement by accompanying military expeditions across the Far East. He adopted hand-coloring techniques to original prints popularized in Japan. He also excelled in studio portraits of natives, creating lush parlor pictures of attractive women.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Before the widespread availability of photography, many tourists drew and painted scenes from their travels. This lovely original watercolor was painted by Barnes himself.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

This copy of Adrian Jones’s 1896 oil painting, “Hurlingham-Nimble, Cicely, Dynamite and Lady Jane” currently hangs in the British National Museum. Jones and Barnes may have been well acquainted as it appears Jones captured Barnes’s likeness in the scene.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Barnes also included personal snapshots in his album. “Theatricals” shows a cheerful, costumed assembly at the India-Pakistan border. Pictures of friends and family members hearken back to Dover, England.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 Also back in England, Lord-Lieutenants presented decorations and awards.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

After the death of Queen Victoria, the company returned home. Barnes is seated among his fellow officers.

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GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The vast and intricate landscape of India continues to captivate the West. For a look at more stunning period photographs, search The Wolfsonian-FIU’s digital collections online, or visit the Wolfsonian-FIU library and page through antique albums from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf in person.

~ by "The Chief" on June 16, 2015.

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