Calcutta Photographs

Old Court House Street, Calcutta by Johnston and Hoffman

This is a photograph/postcard of Old Court House Street in Calcutta (7088) taken by the commercial photography firm, Johnston & Hoffman. They were active in Calcutta and the wider Bengal region from around 1870-1918. Some of their photographs are held in the Royal Commonwealth Society Photographs Collection , Cambridge, UK. We would like to investigate this studio in further detail, and to produce a visual compendium of how they saw and captured Calcutta in their ‘commercial’ prints and postcards.

Johnston_Hoffman_old court house st

Their everyday street scenes capture ordinary life and rarely show the classic iconic views and buildings associated with tourist postcards. The idea behind these images was to convey the ordinary, almost banal quotidian street scene. Calcutta is not being presented here as the quixotic, oriental or ‘other’. Instead we see classical architecture, jewellry shops. There is an efficient tram system running along purposefully straight streets, and terminating with an ‘English’ church steeple (barely visible in this poor quality scan).

1 comment
  1. It might be worth looking at our collection of glass plates of Calcutta, taken c.1912 in the archive of the RCAHMS. They are visible online and show a number of street scenes and some night scenes from the time of the royal visit in early 1912.

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