CEYLON - William Louis Henry SKEEN, photographer (1847-1903); and others.
Group 60 photographs depicting the people and landscape of Ceylon, and including a number of images documenting the visit by Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Ceylon: 1893. Mounted albumen photographs, many captioned in manuscript on the mounts, many signed in the negative by Skeen. Image sizes approximately 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches; card mounts measuring 14 7/8 x 12 inches.
Housed in a contemporary full morocco box, by A. Guenther of Vienna, gilt patterned endpapers and edges, metal hinges and clasps.
Lovely collection of 19th century images of Ceylon's people and landscape, including images of a royal visit by Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria.
In 1892, Archduke Ferdinand, the Prince and heir apparent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, departed on a 10-month journey around the world, including visits to India, Ceylon, Australia, New Guinea, Japan, and the United States. The voyage held a dual purpose: the Archduke was recovering from tuberculosis and needed a cover in which to convalesce; in addition, however, the 28-year-old Prince was an avid sportsman and travelled in search of exotic game. The Archduke and his large entourage arrived in Colombo on January 5, 1893; travelling overland to a hunting campe at Kalawewa, returning to India on January 13. The Archduke is best remembered for being assassinated in 1914 which would trigger World War I.
Many of these images are by the important photographer William Skeen. Skeen, trained at the London School of Photography, arrived in Ceylon in 1862. His father, a noted printer on the island, had purchased an existing photography studio for him to operate. "During its existence W.L.H. Skeen and Co. was the premier firm in Ceylon, producing an extensive documentation of agriculture and industry (particularly tea and spices), landscapes and ethnic groups ... The company were photographers by appointment to the Duke of Edinburgh during the tour of 1870 and photographed elephant kraals ... It also exhibited at major international exhibitions from the 1870s to the 1900s" (RCS Photographers Project, Cambridge University Library). Other images are attributed to the two photographers who traveled with the Archduke, the Bohemian Eduard Hodek (1858-1929) (who in addition to being the royal photographer for the trip, was also the Archduke's head taxidermist) and German photographer Karl Pietzner (1853-1927).