Shapoor Bhedwar


From Times of India Feb 22, 1892, page 7


Visitors to the Bombay Art Society's Exhibition at the Secretariat can hardly have failed to notice the series of beautiful pictures exhibited by Mr. Shapoorjee Naaserwanjee Bhedwar. Delicate in conception, refined in treatment, and full of life and light, Mr. Bhedwar's photographs are pictures in every sense of the word.

They are only photographs, it is true, but there is so subtle a light about them, and such brilliance of treatment and effect, that they are raised to the level of real works of art. Until two or three years ago Mr. Bhedwar, we believe, was an amateur pursuing photography for his own amusement. He went to London, put himself under the best masters, and very soon bade fair to excel them.

Taking for his subjects a number of models who sat for Sir Frederick Leighton, Mr. Alma Tadema, and other artists, Mr. Bhedwar made a series of pictures which at once brought his name prominently before the art world, and in a little more than twelve months he carried off at various exhibitions and competitions no fewer than fourteen awards.  Among these were:

  • The Polytechnic 1st Silver Medal;
  • Honourable Mention, Cornwall Exhibition;
  • Medal, Photographic Society of Great Britain, for series, "Feast of Roses";
  • Tunbridge Wells, 1st Silver, genre class, "Feast of Roses";
  • Photography Challenge Genre Study Silver Cup Competition," Love's Young Dream, "first prize Silver Cup;
  • Polytechnic 1st Silver Medal and Special Diploma for the exceptional artistic and technical excellence of the work;
  • Ventnor and Bonchurch, 1st Silver, Portraiture Class, "La Tambourine," and 15 by 12 bust and 15 by 12 group;
  • Ventnor and Bonchurch, 1st Silver, Genre Class, "Granny's Comfort," "Her First Offer," "Reverie";
  • Liverpool International, 1st Silver, Genre Class, "Two's Company," and Championship Gold Medal for "Feast of Roses";
  • Photographic Society of India, Calcutta Exhibition, 1st Silver, for "Feast of Roses," and other works;
  • Gloucester, Bronze Medal, Portraiture;
  • Gloucester, Extra Silver Medal in Genre Class, "Feast of Roses";
  • Derby, Bronze Medal in Genre Class; and
  • The Cardiff Gold Medal, Champion Class, "Feast of Roses."

After spending a small fortune in thus learning the art, in the course of which he invented what is practically a new process of photography, Mr. Bhedwar has returned to India to open a studio as a professional photographer, and judging from the magnificent work he has done in England, his venture should prove a unique success. We had an opportunity recently of inspecting some specimens of Mr. Bhedwar's art in portrait work, on which he brings to bear the same resources of lightness and delicacy of treatment, which characterise his "Reverie" and "Loves Young Dream."

It is all marvellously clever work, and some of it — notably the portraits of Viscount Barrington's daughter, and of the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Christian and his son — is really superb. Six of the pictures which Mr. Bhedwar exhibited are artistic sketches of one of the prettiest festivals in this land of fêtes — the Feast of Roses in Cashmere — a subject which lends itself admirably for the purpose; and though Mr. Bhedwar will no doubt be obliged, if he wishes for success, to reproduce nature and men and things hardly susceptible of the high poetic treatment this present subject affords, it is nevertheless certain that whenever he returns from the humdrum of the ordinary photographic studio to kindred subjects such as his present display, he will meet with plenty of encouragement from the enlightened and generous art-loving portion of the population of this city.

The nicest touches of shade and tone, the minutest details of light and exposure, have been so carefully studied by Mr. Bhedwar in the production of his dainty works of art, that the spectator feels alike pleasure and surprise as he views these veritable triumphs of photography. That a native artist should have mastered thoroughly the processes so varied and troublesome which go to make up the art of photography speaks well for his industry and patience, and the fact that Bombay now possesses one of the ablest of the masters of this modern art should give a large impetus to the taste for these lovely reproductions of the beautiful and the natural.

Mr, Bhedwar holds among his other trophies the highest award that photography can bestow, namely:

  • The medal of the Photographic Society of Great Britain;
  • The 1st class Certificate of the City and Guilds of London Technological examination in Photography;
  • The Diploma of the Polytechnic for artistic posing and lighting and general operating (signed by Downey, Van der Weyde, Bassano, and Thompson);
  • The Polytechnic Diploma for retouching (signed by Van der Weyde, Thompson, and Bassano);and
  • The Diploma for passing the examination in artistic photography (signed by  H. P. Robinson, W. England, J. Gale, and Valentine Blanchard).

Thus in less than two years he has reached the highest attainable distinctions in the art he has chosen.  He will open his studio at Swiss Lodge, Cumballa Hill, today, and there is every probability that a large and fashionable clientèle will avail themselves of the opportunity thus offered to secure really artistic photographs,