World’s Oldest Photography Studio in India Closes its Doors After 176-Year Run

Bourne & Shepherd documented the coronation of Kind George V and Queen Mary in 1911.

File Photo-A man cleaning the old cameras at one of the world’s oldest photo studio ‘Bourne and Shepherd’ which closed the shop after 176 years in Kolkata on Sunday. PTI Photo
Photo: @deccanherald_official Instagram

Bourne & Shepherd, the oldest photography studio in the world, has closed its doors to public this month after an unparalleled 176 years in business. Located in Koltaka, India, the studio was started by British photographers Samuel Bourne and Charles Shepherd around 1840.

One of the most successful commercial enterprises in India throughout the 19th and early 20th century, Bourne & Shepherd is responsible for some of the most iconic photographs from the time. At its peak, the studio had agencies in London and Paris, and was assigned important tasks such as the documentation of the Delhi Durbar held to commemorate the coronation of Kind George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India in 1911, according to India Today.

The former owner of the studio, Jayant Gandhi, made the decision to put an end to the 176-year legacy partly due to aging, but also due to the fact that the studio had been in decline for some time. Ever since a fire struck Bourne & Shepherd 25 years ago, the building has been decaying and the business suffered greatly when a great part of its archival collection perished in the flames.

Although the Bourne & Shepherd studio has ceased to operate, a host of photographs produced during its glorious 176 years of operation remain to preserve its memory. Some of these photographs are displayed in world-renowned institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Portraits in London, and the Cambridge University library, as reported by The Indian Express.

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