PROPERTY FROM THE SPORTING AND TRAVEL LIBRARY OF ARNOLD "JAKE" JOHNSON
Franz Ferdinand's life changed drastically 1889 when his cousin, Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide at his hunting lodge in Mayerling, leaving the young Ferdinand heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Despite the many responsibility this incurred, Ferdinand made time for travel, and demonstrated a great love for trophy hunting. He kept a tally of his successes in his diaries, and through these accounts it is estimated that he made 300,000 game kills. Roughly 100,000 trophies were exhibited at his Bohemian castle at Konopiště (which also boasted a shooting hall with moving targets).
The present album wonderfully depicts the Archduke with the Nizam of Hyderabad, monarch of the Hyderabad State. One of the earliest images is that of an elephant procession starting from the Chowmahila Palace, with the Archduke and the Nizam riding regally atop the animal. Thus begins a fantastic melding of Indian and European customs, with subsequent images including Ferdinand reviewing a the marches of various military regiments, hunting cheetah at Saroonagar, "Malukpett sports" (or wresting on ponies), shooting rupees in midair, and the Imperial Shikar Camp at Tandur. There are also photographs capturing the exquisite architecture of the Bashir Bagh and Saroongar palaces, to include highlights of their lavish interiors.
Lala Deen Dayal became the court photographer to the Nizam of Hyderabad, and was also appointed as the photographer to the Viceroy of India (1885), and Queen Victoria (1887). The Nizam conferred the honorary title of Raja upon him, and shortly thereafter, Dayal created the firm Raja Deen Dayal & Sons.
Famously, Ferdinand's assassination on the 28th of June 1914 brought about a sequence of events that sparked the start of World War I. The present album—compiled by one of the most prestigious Indian photographers of the 19th century—captures the young Archduke engaged in the activities he perhaps loved best.
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