the photoBooks of the Dutch East Indies

 Woodbury & Page

Onnes Kurkdjian

Herman Salzwedel

Kassian Céphas

Charles Kleingrothe

Christiaan Benjamin Nieuwenhuis

Isidore van Kinsbergen Indie 2006_01_19

Isidore van Kinsbergen

Adolf Schaefer

Anneke Groeneveld et al., Toekang Potret; 100 Jaar fotografie in Nederlands Indië 1839-1939. Amsterdam, Fragment, 1989.

Gerrit Knaap, Cephas, Yogyakarta; Photography in the service of the Sultan. Leiden, KITLV Press, 1999.

Scott Merrillees, Batavia in nineteenth century photographs, Richmond, Curzon Press, 2000.

Steven Wachlin, Woodbury & Page, Photographers Java. Leiden: KITLV Press, 1994. See the review ...

Hotel des Indes Batavia

Indonesië (1947-1953) by Charles Breijer

Stedenreeks Asia Maior

Tempo Doeloe : a tribute to the Dutch East Indies

Indisch eten in de Bijenkorf van Rotterdam (1931)

Advertising in the Dutch East Indies



Nederlands-Indië in foto's, 1860-1940

Photography in the Dutch East Indies

The commercial photographers who started working in the Dutch East Indies from 1845 led a nomadic existence. They would set up a studio in a large town or hotel or at the home of an acquaintance, advertise in the local paper and take a photograph of anybody who had money to spare for that purpose. After a couple of weeks or months when the market had become saturated, they moved on to the next town. Among these pioneers were the two young Englishmen Walter Bentley Woodbury and James Page. From 1857 to 1908 Woodbury & Page was a leading firm in the photography sector in the Dutch East Indies.

Primarily, the commercial photographers took portraits of people, more particularly of prominent individuals. In addition, they sold topographic photos, i.e. pictures of important buildings, streets, volcanoes or agricultural enterprises. Pictures of the various population types in the colony also formed part of their repertoire. The topographic photos were chiefly sold as ‘souvenirs’.

During the last decades of the nineteenth century, the photographers’ wanderings came to an end. At that time, every large town had one or more permanently established photographers. The Surabayan photographers Onnes Kurkdjian  and Herman Salzwedel and the Javan, Kassian Céphas (who worked in Yogyakarta) were famous names at the time.

The heyday of commercial photography was over by the beginning of the twentieth century and the role it played in forming an image of the Dutch East Indies diminished noticeably. There were two reasons for this. The introduction of the picture postcard brought an end to the market for topographic photos. And then, thanks to the many technical improvements, photography had essentially become the domain of amateurs: now everybody could make his or her own ‘souvenirs’.

Batavia Koningin van het Oosten Photography