Art of the Day: Vintage Photographs by E.O. Hoppé
E.O. Hoppé began his professional career as a banker in 1900 when he joined the London office of Deutsche Bank after studying in Paris and Vienna. As a banker, however, he wasn’t going to go very far. It was his hobby of photography that was going to establish him as one of the most celebrated portrait photographers of his time. By 1907, Hoppé had numerous exhibitions in London and in 1911, he set up his first studio in London. Over the next couple of decades, Hoppé would photograph a staggering number of celebrities, including the poet T.S. Eliot, Britain’s monarch George V, Indian Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore and the dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. Hoppé also travelled widely to far-flung places like Australia and India, and took photographs of his journeys. At the Premchand Roychand Gallery in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya (or the Museum, as we affectionately call it), you can see a selection of the photographs Hoppé took when he came to India in 1929 and visited Mumbai and Santiniketan, among other places.
The photographs that Hoppé took of Mumbai are full of the romantic flair that the black and white medium lends to virtually any scene. We couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for the good old days when there were trams, Brylcreem-stiffened hair and when you could walk under the arches of the Gateway of India. At the same time, it’s interesting to note how modern some of the photographs feel. For example, the view of the Taj through the arches of the Gateway or the crowds that Hoppé shows in his street scenes feel almost contemporary. Among our favourites from the Mumbai photos is one titled “Open Air Café”, which could be an ode to Modernist art with its neat and precise use of geometry. From Hoppé’s photographs, it’s clear that this city was always about the bustle, the crowds and cheerful energy. Modernity’s contributions to Mumbai seem to be clusters of not-s0-pretty architecture and a certain grubbiness.
For those with a love for Rabindranath Tagore, the exhibition also offers some charming photos of the poet in Santiniketan as well as a very watchable documentary on the life of Tagore by the award-winning director Satyajit Ray.Tags: Art, Art of the day, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, EO Hoppe
LocationPremchand Roychand Gallery
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya
159/61 Mahatma Gandhi Road
Opposite National Gallery of Modern Art
Phone2284 4484, 2284 4519
Relevant DatesUntil Monday, February 28
HoursTuesday to Sunday, 10.15am to 6pm; Mondays closed
Ticketing & Price InfoRs25 for Indians, Rs300 for foreigners