D une collection de 10 epreuves originales vintages
Philip Adolphe Klier was an outstanding photographer. Nevertheless, he undertook various professional activities. They all seem to have contributed to his skill. Klier was of German origin. He began his active life as a professional photographer in 1871, starting in Moulmein, one of the bigger cities of 'Lower Burma'. Although Klier can be regarded as an early photographer, photography as such was no longer experimental. Klier worked his way up and was described in the Illustrated London News of March 1877 as a 'local artist of considerable repute'. Around 1880 Klier moved to Rangoon, Burma's biggest and fastest growing city. In the wake of the conquest of the Irrawaddy Delta by the British in 1852, Rangoon had become the centre of Indo-British power. For Klier, Rangoon presented a heaven-sent chance to extend his professional activities. In the beginning Klier worked on his own. The desire to have a studio was what most probably prompted him to look for a partner and so he worked together with J. Jackson in the period 1885-90 but then, for the rest of his life, he carried on independently.
Tres belle epreuve representant :
? Colons ou corps diplomatique en poste en Birmanie - District de Katha le pose en famille au moment du picnic. ? au dos indication Picnic District de Katha Epreuve tiree sur papier albumine photosensible noircissement direct, de format 13,3 / 20,2 cm . L etat de conservation de cette epreuve est assez bonne
L image est d une coloration tres bien contrastee, Dans une echelle de 1 a 10 en densite pour comparer avec une epeuve absolument parfaite de couleur et de contraste je noterais cette epreuve a 9 / 10.
L etat de conservation de cette epreuve est tres bonne. L image est d une coloration relativement intense et tres homogene.
Tirage original d epoque, considere comme vintage, donc tirage contemporain de sa prise de vue. Le cliche fut pris et tire par le photographe. Les plaques negatives a cette epoque etaient sur papier ou negatif au collodion humide et le tirage au format sans agrandissement. L image mise en ligne n a pas ete retouchee, les contrastes sont fideles
By GERDA THEUNS-DE BOER Philip Adolphe Klier was an outstanding photographer. Nevertheless, he undertook various professional activities. They all seem to have contributed to his skill. Klier was of German origin. He began his active life as a professional photographer in 1871, starting in Moulmein, one of the bigger cities of 'Lower Burma'. Although Klier can be regarded as an early photographer, photography as such was no longer experimental.
Making a living from photography at that time was still difficult. From the directories which mention Klier, we learn that he tried to minimize his business risk by taking work as an optician, watchmaker, and jeweller as well running the firm known as Murken & Klier, with Heinrich Murken being his business associate. Klier worked his way up and was described in the Illustrated London News of March 1877 as a 'local artist of considerable repute'. Around 1880 Klier moved to Rangoon, Burma's biggest and fastest growing city. In the wake of the conquest of the Irrawaddy Delta by the British in 1852, Rangoon had become the centre of Indo-British power. For Klier, Rangoon presented a heaven-sent chance to extend his professional activities. In the beginning Klier worked on his own. The desire to have a studio was what most probably prompted him to look for a partner and so he worked together with J. Jackson in the period 1885-90 but then, for the rest of his life, he carried on independently.
From advertisements in the Rangoon Gazette, the Rangoon Times, and the Weekly Budget, we may conclude that Klier succeeded admirably in commercializing his photographs. The texts are always embellished with slogans such as: Awarded prize medals; New Series and New Designs; Pictures finished in the highest style of art; Photographs in all the latest processes; Pictorial postcards in colour and black and white etc. The core of his work is expressed best in an advertisement in the Rangoon Gazette of March 2, 1887: 'Portraits taken from 8 am to 3 pm. Views of Upper and Lower Burma, Maulmain and the Andaman Islands, also Burmese celebrities and characters of Burmese life'. Besides this, he was a specialist in art photography. Quite a few of his photographs were published in art books as photogravures. He focused on silverware, glass mosaics, woodcarving, iron and steel work, and panel art. Here we can see how his photography and other professional activities were related to each other, as from later advertisement it is known that Klier took up trade again as a dealer in objects d'art, silverwork, and furniture! It is my belief that all of his additional undertakings in Moulmein and Rangoon contributed to his photographic skill. Let us take a look on photo 578 entitled 'Burmese Hpongyees Collecting Alms'. Collecting alms
In the centre of the photograph we see two novice monks, (Pon-gyi in Burmese, meaning Great Glory) engaged on their daily ritual of begging, which is still common in Theravada Buddhist countries. Every morning the younger monks and novices go out in a silent procession to beg their food. The monks stop when anyone comes out to put an offering of rice, cake, fruit, fish, or vegetables in the earthen or lacquer ware begging-bowl. No word will be spoken, either of request or thanks, for the monks are doing the laity a favour by allowing them to acquire merit. The monk's eyes must be downcast, for the monk should not look upon a woman. Hands must be clasped beneath the begging-bowl. After about an hour, the monks go back to the monastery. A portion of the alms will be offered to the Buddha. Tradition says that the food should be reheated and eaten before noon, but it is the practice to give this eclectic mixture of food to the smaller boys, wanderers, and dogs, while better food, donated by wealthier supporters, is eaten by the monks themselves.
On the photograph we see that all the rules of correct behaviour are being strictly followed. Klier uses a so-called backdrop, a painting that could be fixed to give the scene the necessary realistic background. Possibly Klier made it himself as he also made hand-painted Christmas and New Year cards. The backdrop gives the photograph a soft, romantic tone. Although space in the studio is limited, he deftly succeeds in suggesting depth. We can look into the hut, while on the left we take stock of the luxuriant nature. It is almost impossible to see where the backdrop touches the floor. Klier rendered the whole scene very cleverly: the grass on the floor, the position of the main figures, the boy sitting on a real wooden verandah in front of the painted hut, the jars, a broom... Although we know that everyone is posing, it is done naturally. The boy has been clearly told to sit still (look at the stiff position of his left arm). But, by not allowing him to look at the act of alms-giving, Klier stresses the everyday character of the ritual thereby creating 'a character of daily life'.
Why did Klier move this ritual into the studio? Within our collection we also have an outdoor photograph by Klier of the same ritual. What is the difference? In the outdoor photograph Klier merely acts as a witness to the scene. In the studio, where all technical and theatrical aspects are under 'control', he is able to create a perfect exotic emblem of virtue and nothing is more certain than that his clients will prefer this photograph!
For whom did he take his photographs? Besides a small group of local Burmese elite who wanted their portraits taken, most of his customers were Europeans, with some connection with the colonial system. In a Rangoon Times advertisement of 1906 he calls himself 'Photographic artist by appointment to his Honour the Lieutenant-Governor of Burma'. Europeans were very much interested in 'Views of Burma', ranging from the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Rangoon to 'Burmese girls'. The photographs were intended to be a souvenir of their Burma days or for 'friends at home'. Klier took hundreds of these views and sometimes compiled them into albums. Thanks to their quality, they show little deterioration. The Klier print shown can be dated as end of the 1880s. It is a albumen print made from a gelatin dry plate. By the way, the total costs for all these 18 prints were 14 rupees-only! *
I want to express my thanks to John Falconer for providing me with some interesting biographical notes on P.A. Klier.
Drs Gerda Theuns-de Boer Photographic Project manager Kern Institute Leiden University E-mail: email@example.com
Mise en garde sur l usage des cliches originaux:
jurisprudence actuelle considere que ce type d epreuve, lors d une
transaction d un proprietaire a un autre, est accompagnee d une paisible
jouissance. Ce qui doit etre interprete comme: La transaction
porte sur la propriete du support (ici l epreuve sur papier) mais ne
concerne en aucune facon le droit a l image, de publication ou d
exploitation. Donc pour toute utilisation il est imperatif de ce
conformer aux usages, c est a dire, de se rapprocher des ayant droits du
photographe ou de l agence qui gere ses droits. (Ceci vaut pour l
oeuvre de tout artiste ou photographe pendant les 70 ans qui suivent sa
disparition, apres quoi il est consider? que son oeuvre tombe dans le
Dans le cas present cette image est totalement libre de toute restriction d usage puisque dans le domaine public.