DUTCH EAST INDIES WOODBURY (WALTER BENTLEY) and JAMES PAGE A series of six albums containing 248 images, including portraits of notable Indonesian figures, ethnographic studies, Dutch colonial life and topographical views from Sumatra to The Moluccas, 1863 and later (6)
Lot 474
DUTCH EAST INDIES WOODBURY (WALTER BENTLEY) and JAMES PAGE. A series of six albums containing 248 images, including portraits of notable Indonesian figures, ethnographic studies, Dutch colonial life and topographical views from Sumatra to The Moluccas, 1863 and later (6)
Sold for £55,250 (US$ 94,222) inc. premium
Lot Details
WOODBURY (WALTER BENTLEY) and JAMES PAGE. A series of six albums containing 248 images, including portraits of notable Indonesian figures, ethnographic studies, Dutch colonial life and topographical views from Sumatra to The Moluccas, albumen prints, 208 with photographers' blindstamp in bottom right corner "W&P. Photographieen van Ned Indië. Batavia", mounted one per page and back to back, German manuscript captions in pencil on the mounts, images 195 x 260mm., ownership inscription "Eigenthum von Dr. Franz Benecke Java 1892" on verso of first leaf of each album, tooled half morocco, "Niederländisch - Indien" stamped in gilt on upper covers, each album identified with gilt letter from A-F, rubbed, oblong folio (310 x 420mm.), 1866 and later (6)


  • A VERY FINE AND IMPORTANT PHOTOGRAPHIC RAISONNÉ OF THE DUTCH EAST INDIES. An invaluable historical, social, political and cultural resource, this series is believed to represent one third of the Woodbury & Page studio's total photographic output.

    Walter B. Woodbury (1834-1885), a Mancunian by birth, is the earliest known photographer of the Dutch East Indies. Aged 18 Woodbury emigrated to Australia in the hope of making his fortune in the Australian gold-fields. However, he was sidetracked by his passion for photography and became one of the leading exponents of the wet-plate process. He went on to hone his skills whilst living in Melbourne and, in 1854, won a medal at the Melbourne Exhibition which resulted in his decision to turn to photography professionally. Whilst in Melbourne he met his future associate, James Page, another British expatriate photographer, and both agreed to leave Australia in 1857 for Batavia and established their studio, Woodbury & Page, in the same year. After mastering the use of wet collodion plates in tropical conditions, Woodbury & Page went from strength to strength. Their work was acclaimed in The British Journal of Photography who reported that it was the first "to show the beauties of tropical scenery ever introduced to [England]" (BJP, 18 September, 1885, p.596) and, in 1859, their photographs were marketed in England by Negretti & Zambra (scientific instrument makers to the Queen). After a short spell back in the UK, Woodbury returned to Java in 1860 and travelled extensively throughout the central and west of the country with Page and his brother, Henry James Woodbury (1836-1873). By 1861 the studio was moved to new premises and renamed Photographisch Atelier van Walter Woodbury where it remained until the company was liquidated in 1908. In 1863 Woodbury returned to England with his Javanese wife and, for the next 12 years, went on to invent prolifically (taking out patents for, amongst other things, optical kaleidoscopes, photographic apparatus and even musical railway signals). His breakthrough came with his patent for the Woodburytype in 1864, the photomechanical printing process which became the most commonly used method to illustrate fine books between 1870 and 1900.

    Dr. Franz Benecke (1857-1903) was a published German botanist from Berlin. After studying in Germany he was employed by the Semarang Sugar Experiment Station in Semarang, northern Java, (where Woodbury & Page opened a studio in January 1864) from 1889 and was appointed Director the following year. In 1893 the station was relocated to Bojalali, central Java, but was discontinued the next year. The scientific developments facilitated by these experiment stations were vital to the economic growth of the tropical colonies. The Dutch East Indies had an extensive network of established private stations that studied all of the main colonial export crops.

    Album A - Comprising 42 images, 39 of which are blindstamped, of views in Batavia and western Java. Including: a group portrait of seated Javanese officials from Serang, Banten; a mosque at Banten; the Governor General's Palace, or the Merdeka Palace, Batavia; views of recreational areas in Batavia, including the zoological gardens (5), theatre (2) and the Concordia Army and navy club; five views of the Harmonie Clubhouse (set up in 1776 by the Governor General De Klerk (and central to the social lives of Batavia's European community) it was demolished by the municipality of Jakarta in 1985) (5); the ?studio of Walter Woodbury and James Page; the Bremen consulate; the Chinese quarter (2); the Meester Cornelis district (a colonial centre which was serviced, up to 16 times a day, by The Dutch East India Railway (Meester Cornelis to Buitenzorg line) which opened in 1873 and also home to the most important military school in Indonesia (2); views in central Batavia, including Gunung Sahari (2), Kali Besar (2), the Berok Bridge and Parapattan and a number of views in west Java, including Sudimara (2), Bekasi, including the public execution of revolutionaries by hanging (2), Depok, Jathe and two unidentified fishing villages (2).

    Album B - Comprising 36 images, 28 of which are blindstamped, of views predominantly in and around Buitenzorg, a mountainous city to the south of Batavia (which, by the end of the nineteenth century, was one of the most developed and Westernised cities in Indonesia). Including: the Buitenzorg Palace, the summer residence of the Governor General (3); the 'sLand Plantentuin, one of the nineteenth century's largest botanic gardens on the slopes of the Pangrango and Salak mountains (the brainchild of Caspar Georg Carl Reinhardt (1773-1854), a German naturalist in Dutch service) (2); the clubhouse; the Railway Hotel; the railway station (3); views of huts at Kampong Ampang (2); a pool and a hut (outside which sit Javanese residents with a European traveller in the background) at Kotta Batoe (2); paddy fields at Koeripan (2); a Western man seated in the foreground of a view of Batoe Toelis; a Western man in an Indonesian hat, pictured with a gun in one view, at Kali Tjiapoes (2); a series of studies of flora (some taken in Preanger), including a still life of tropical fruit, a banyan tree, a rubber tree, climbing plants, a close up of nutmeg in a pod, a study of a durian fruit and banana trees (9); a view of two native men pig-sticking with a wild boar in the foreground and a group portrait of three young boys atop a water buffalo.

    Album C - Comprising 40 images (all but one blindstamped) of views in west Java, including Bandoeng, Tjitjalengka, Tjandjoer and Sumedang. Including: three views in Jatinagor, one of which shows a group of 4 Javanese beside a pond (3); a raft ferry, upon which are a number of natives and a horse, at a river crossing near ?Daijoe Kollot; two native men and a horse in a road; the crater of Tjiwedei with two European men in the foreground; the crater of Tangkuban Perahu; a group portrait of Dutch and Javanese guests at a New Year reception; a group portrait of the Wedono (Javanese regional administrator) of Banjaran with members of his entourage; a group portrait of Javanese in uniform with a Western man in an alun-alun (large open lawn square); natives at the post station, Nagreg; a number of views in Tjandjoer, including ferry ropes over the Tjimandiri river, a mosque and a group portrait outside the assistant resident's house (7); the Regent's house; the Governor General's country residence (2); three native men beside lake Telaga Werna; Javanese men with buffalo drawn carts on the road from Tjikao to Tjipada Larang; an alun-alun in Tjikao with three seated Javanese; Javanese on a rock outside the cave of Sangiang Tjkoro; a local passenger ferry on the river Citarum (3); Javanese and a Western man in an alun-alun, Pasangrahan; a number of Javanese outside mosques (4), including the Preanger mountain mosque, and a gamelan ensemble.

    Album D - Comprising 38 images, 36 of which are blindstamped, predominantly of notable Javanese figures and ethnographic studies. Including: a portrait of Raden Saleh Sjarif Boestaman (1811-1880), the celebrated Indonesian painter, seated at a table with an open book; a grand mansion thought to be the home of Raden Saleh; a group portrait of a Malay family; another larger group portrait of Malay servants at home; an Indonesian dancer in traditional dress with musicians; four of the Regent of Bandoeng's dancers; female batik makers, possibly in Garut; the home of a wealthy Chinese family; children dancing/performing for Chinese New Year celebrations; Chinese child dancers in traditional dress; the female Regent of Koedoes with her female clerks; a group portrait of Dutch and Javanese officials; a group portrait of Javanese officials; a Javanese court in session presided over by a Western judge; a portrait of the Regent of Rembang; the Regent of Rembang's gamelan ensemble; a group portrait of wyang kulit or 'shadow play' in action (with a backdrop dated 1862); a view of men and women harvesting rice; tea and coffee plantations, Javanese workers and tea drying in Garut, Sinagar and Salatiga (11); a view of workers stripping China bark; nutmeg harvesting and three views of the damage caused by the 1876 earthquake (3).

    Album E - Comprising 42 images, 39 of which are blindstamped, predominantly of the Jogjakarta and Surakarta Sultanates in central south Java. Including: the entrance to the palace of the Jogjakarta Sultanate; the Resident's house; the clubhouse; ruins of the Tjandi Sawoe temples, three of which with Javanese subjects in the foreground (5); portraits of the King, or 'soesoehoenan' of Solo (Surakarta) in Javanese costume, palace costume, and in a Dutch General's uniform (seated and standing) (5); a head and shoulder portrait of the Queen of Solo; the Queen of Solo's mother; the Prince and Princess of Solo; group portraits of the King's Officers (1) and Priests (1); an interior view of the palace; views of the King's Gala Coaches (3); a sugar factory at Tjolomadoe (Malang Djiwan); Poerworedjo in the Bagelan Residency, Magelang; a temple in the Mageland Residency; the ruins of Borobudur (6); a view of a Javanese man outisde a hut in Pasanggrahan near Borobudur; a waterfall between Magelang and Poerworedjo (2); a view of the Regent of Magelang's entourage; two stone idols and two still life studies of Javanese artefacts, including bronze vessels and clay tableware (4).

    Album F - Comprising 50 images, 27 of which are blindstamped, of Krakatoa, Sumatra, Bangka and Sulawesi. Including: views of Krakatoa, one including an exploration party (6); a view of Banda Island; a view of the 17th century Dutch fort of Belgica, Banda, occupied by military personnel; boats of the coast of Sumatra; the Fort at Kotta Radja (Banda Aceh); the General's house at Kotta Radja; the Kotta Radja Hotel, Kaufmann & Co., with workers and, possibly, residents on the porch; views of the old and new (Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman) Mosque at Kotta Radja (the construction of the latter was completed in 1881; it was one of the few buildings to survive the tsunami of 2004); a view of Mount Merapi volcano; views of Fort de Kock (Bukittnggi), including the Resident's house, the barracks, the club house and the mosque (8); general views in Padang, including a street scene, a western party crossing a river with one man on horseback and a lady with a a parasol being carried in a sedan, Moera (near Padang) (7); Pelambang mosque; views in Telok Betong (a district of Sumatra's south coast and the chief town of the Residency) including a street, the plantation and general topographical views (7); a view of Javanese sitters outside a stilted hut in Deli, a sultanate in eastern Sumatra; a group portrait of the Sultan of Lingga with attendants, Riau; the Resident's house at Muntok, Banka; Javanese and a Western traveller at Batoe Roessak, Banka; a group portrait of the Guard of the Sultans of Ternate, Moluccas, and a number of views in Makassar, southern Sulawesi, including the 'Harmonie' clubhouse, the home of the Crown Price of Goa and a still life of an offering to the Crown Princess of Goa.
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