Studio Photography 1937

Illegibilities

Balasaraswati and MS Subbulakshmi

One of the most fabulous photographs I have come across. The blurb to this photograph in the book Balasaraswati: Her Art and Life by Douglas M Knight reads

“Studio portrait of Balasaraswati with M.S Subbulakshmi, 1937. The two teenaged friends both became world famous artists. From strictly disciplined households, the two asserted their independence by secretly arranging this photograph of themselves dressed outrageously in Western-style sleepwear and pretending to smoke cigarettes.”

This photograph is arresting on so many levels. The year and the image. 1937 and two Indian women dressed in western wear posing with cigarettes. There is also the fact of the unknown photographer as well as the unknown studio where this may have been taken. The blurb points to the background of the two women as coming from quite a conservative background. There would have been time spent in planning this. Finding the photographer who they seem to…

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