Photographic Representations of 19th Century Zenana


Beatrice Cooke will be giving a short presentation of her work as part of the portal project between the Ashmolean Museum and TORCH Knowledge Exchange programme on 28th April for members of Oxford University. She is currently working on her thesis which explores photographic representations of the 19th Century Indian zenana as depicted by Maharaja Ram Singh II (1835-1880) and Lala Deen Dayal (1844-1910). These photographs serve as valuable visual records of changing gender roles in 19th century India. They mark the recently increased agency of women as creative subjects, visualising a transition from the representation of women as undifferentiated specimens of ethnic difference under the Imperial gaze to highly self-conscious and theatrical visions of femininity.

This was narrative that began in the 1820s and reached its zenith in the middle of the 20th century. As such, it will provide an intriguing and relevant backdrop to the Bengal and Modernity exhibition, which explores the emergence of a similar set of issues in the following century.


Beatrice Cooke

Ashmolean Project Portal

Contact name: Mallica Kumbera Landrus
Contact email:
Website: Ashmolean Museum Bengal and Modernity: Early 20th-century Art in India
Audience: University of Oxford only