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Lala Deen Dayal
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The 20th century
The glory of Lala Deen Dayal was shadowed by the idiosyncrasies of time and tide. He reached the peak of his career and prosperity at the end of the 19th century. The new century witnessed the emerging of problems for the family and the firm. Problems of health, finance and patronage. The massive empire built up by the Lala began to crumble with the death of two of his sons – Dharamchand and Dhyanchand, rather early in life.

When, Raja Dharam Chand died in 1904, Deen Dayal found it difficult to manage the Bombay studio and his own health was failing. Very little is known about Dayal’s wife whose death preceded his own by just a few months. Failing health and problems led to the demise of the grand old man of Photography in July 1905 at Bombay where he had probably come for treatment. The Bombay studio however continued for another five years before it closed down.

The third son Gyanchand held the firm in place until his early demise. Raja Gyan Chand struggled to keep the business going through very difficult times. With the death of the sixth  Nizam and withdrawal of privileges and monies, the firm's fortunes declined.

Among the major jobs which were executed during this period were life size oil paintings of Their Imperial Majesties King George V and Queen Mary, supplied for the reception hall of Falaknuma Palace, 84x48” oil paintings of Narendra Pershad Bahadur and Maharajah Kishen Pershad Bahadur executed by a French artist.

Not only did the firm specialise in oil paintings but other special forms of photographic art like porcelain photos and opalines for which the raw material had to be imported from England. The lenses used by the firm were specially manufactured to their specifications by Dallmeyer of London. On the camera lenses is the engraving: “specially made for Raja Deen Dayal & Sons. 1889”. Execution of these jobs involved major outgoing payments.

The funds came but not before the creditors had sounded the death knell of the firm and grabbed all the assets they could lay their hands on. Gyan Chand died in 1919, when his sons were only in their teens with no elder to support them and guide them. Very little is known about the years between 1920 and 1930. The photographic business founded by Lala Deen Dayal was continued by his grandsons of whom Shri Ami Chand was the youngest and took a keen interest in photography.

While Hukumchand managed commercial aspects, Amichand devoted all his time to the technical operations - dividing time between shoots, the darkroom and handfinishing of prints.

If there is one individual modern generations have to thank for still being able to glimpse the wonders of Deen Dayal's magic - it is AmiChand Deen Dayal. Through all his trials and tribulations and the onslaught of the ravages of time, he persevered to present Deen Dayal to the future generations. Almost a century later Deen Dayal's glory has been brought to the Web by his great grand daughter Hemlata Jain.

With a view to preserving the rich Deen Dayal legacy and lack of resources to preserve the heritage, which was facing deterioration, the family accepted the offer of the IGNCA, Delhi, to acquire the collection, house it properly, set up a permanent display and make the material available to scholars and researchers of photography, history and art.

Gyanchand Deen Dayal
Gyanchand with his camera team
Shri Gyan Chand was the eldest son of Lala Deen Dayal.  With the death of his younger brothers at very young ages, and the death of his father in July 1905, he was left to handle the business in Bombay and Hyderabad. The firm still enjoyed royal patronage and Gyan Chand was commissioned to cover the Royal visit of King George V in 1911.
He accompanied the Royal entourage  throughout the sub continent, creating a fine record of the visit. But difficulties arose when Nizam VI, Mir Mahbub Ali Khan, the chief patron of Raja Deen Dayal passed away in 1911. The seventh Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan ascended the throne at the age of 26; he had no interest in photography and withdrew the monthly stipend enjoyed by the firm for last 25 years. Gyan Chand’s  sons were very young, barely teenagers when he expired in 1919. During the years from 1905 to 1919 he worked hard to retain the firm’s standing. He continued to provide all the professional services but managing both establishments proved too much of a strain for him and the Bombay studio was probably closed down in 1910 after having shifted the premises twice in the period 1905 to 1910. Financial difficulties took their toll as recoveries in Hyderabad became problematic. Gyanchand tried  to keep the business running but fate ended his life and his sons were  not experienced enough to take on the responsibility.

Gyanchand was as experienced and skilled as his father and his work especially in portraiture is outstanding. A large volume of  his originals lie in museums around the world.
Ami Chand Deen Dayal

Amichand did not enjoy the benefits of his father’s or grandfather’s experience in photography. He was only 12 when his father died and the firm collapsed. Yet he worked hard to pick up the legacy, qualified himself through postal tuition and attained a high level of skill in photography. In 1937 he was awarded a Diploma in Colouring Photographs and Miniatures in Oil by the National Art School, Chicago; in 1941 he graduated from the New York Institute of Photography completing the studies for a Course in Professional Photography ; he was admitted member of the Institute of British Photographers and American School of Photography.

Amichand transitioned from capturing the charms of royalty and palaces to photographing the modern temples' of India '- its industries. He can be counted  amongst the  first industrial  photographers of the
time. His work is a faithful chronicle of the Hyderabad State under Mir Osman Ali Khan - the VII Nizam of Hyderabad. The era of Mir Osman Ali Khan and the transfer of power to the Indian Union, the Razakar movement and the advent of the Nehru clan have all been recorded by Ami Chand.

To him goes the credit for preserving the remarkable photographs that survive. Ami Chand devoted 65 years to the art of photography. In his lifetime Ami Chand worked as hard as his grandfather documenting the events of Hyderabad in the years from 1935 to 1984; travelling throughout the state on hunting expeditions and visits of the Nizam to the districts. In addition to the huge field cameras and studio camera, Ami Chand used the Graphlex and Zeiss Ikon cameras. His expertise lay in close supervision of the staff after having perfected the techniques through years of practice in the darkroom himself.

Ami Chand witnessed the outstanding success of Deen Dayal exhibitions in Bombay, Pune and London between 1979 and 1982. The prints displayed at these exhibitions were made from the original glass plate negatives under the technical supervision of Ami Chand. There was a large daylight enlarger which could hold the 10x12 glass plates for exposure in daylight. Being a qualified artist Ami Chand often undertook hand colouring of photos with stunning results. Retouching and finishing were other special aspects which Ami Chand scrutinised to produce high quality work.
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