F R Ratnagar
1898 - 1994
Pictorialism and the recognition of photography as a fine art had its greatest impact in India from 1932. This was the year that the Camera Pictorialists of Bombay was formed with F R Ratnagar as one of its founding members. Ratnagar was committed to promoting artistic photography in India, organising exhibitions there such as the All-India Salon of Photographic Art in 1933 and the first show of international photography in 1935. Ratnagar’s work was also recognised internationally, and he received a fellowship of both the Royal Photographic Society in Great Britain and the Photographic Society of America.
In a period which saw the increased popular usage of the camera, Ratnagar argued against the prejudices that this created in accepting the potential of the medium as an art form. He claimed that ‘the difference between the millions of people who use cameras and the few who practice pictorial photography is a difference in aim’.1 The true artist, he believed, was well aware of the image that they wished to secure before they took it, but waited for the correct moment – after close observation of the subject and the conditions of light and weather upon it – to create it. ‘Stormy weather’ suggests this carefully staged approach to photography. The mood of the entire composition is translated by the light and feel of a turbulently clouded sky, which exposes the columned post and the shrouded figures which lean against it as surrealist props within the landscape.
1. Ratnagar F R 1942, ‘Photography as a fine art’, ‘Indian Photography and Cinematography’, Jul p 75
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Untitled (women in saris)
gelatin silver photograph
15.9 x 11.4 cm image; 17.2 x 12.3 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r. sheet, pencil "F.R Ratnagar". Not dated.
Gift of the Sydney Camera Circle 1977
Not on display
Referenced in 2 publications
Denise Mimmocchi, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'International pictorialism', pg.53-69, Sydney, 2007, 69 (illus.).
Indian Photography and Cinematography, Jul 1942, 75 (illus.).