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British hunting photos set to shock at Bonhams - Historical photographs showing gruesome hunting scenes in India, while the British ruled the country at the turn of the last century, are to be sold by Bonhams on 13 October 2006 at 101 New Bond Street, London. The sale of books, photographs, maps and manuscripts will focus solely on India and the sub-continent.
The hunting images, depicting slain tigers, will feature within a series of topographical views of India and the sub-continent, portraits of princes and maharajas, and albums of photographs showing British Colonial life, dating from 1856 to the early 20th century.
The British Viceroy and Governor-General of India from 1898 to 1905, Lord Curzon, is portrayed alongside a series of dead animals from his hunting expeditions. Known for his intelligence, but equally for his enormous ego and pomposity, Curzon is pictured in one photograph proudly standing in front of a slaughtered tiger draped over the shoulders of an elephant. The album of 120 gelatin silver prints is conservatively estimated at £600-800, but could fetch much more.
A further album, combining 188 images by two great photographers of the day, Willoughby Wallace Hooper and Samuel Bourne, depicts ethnographic, famine, big-game and sporting images, together with topographical views from circa 1865-1878. Priced at £6,000-8,000, the album includes 12 hunting images, depicting the kill to the skinning of a tiger.
Also within the sale is a manuscript album, estimated at £800-1,200, which describes the hunting exploits of civil servant Horatio S J Ross in the jungles of Mirzaphore, North West Provinces, India between 1858 and 1861. For four years Ross was based at Chunar Fort on the Ganges, staying periodically at other bungalows in the Mirzapur district, Uttar Pradesh. Whilst recording several official duties such as Lord Canning’s escort along the Ganges, a great majority of the narrative and watercolours document a period of “68 days out shooting, 70 head bagged”, including eight tigers.
India is home to 40% of the world’s tigers. At the turn of the last century India had a reported population of 40,000 tigers. Today, the figure is just 3,500.