Group of General Prendergast and many of his staff, taken in front of the Hall of Audience in Mandalay Palace, on 17th December, 1885
Photographer: Hooper, Willoughby Wallace (1837-1912)
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of General Prendergast and many of his staff, taken in front of the Hall of Audience in the Royal Palace at Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar) by Willoughby Wallace Hooper on 17th December, 1885. The photograph is from a series documenting the Third Anglo-Burmese War (1885-86) made by Hooper while serving as Provost Marshal with the British army. General Sir Harry Prendergast (1834-1912) commanded the Burma Expeditionary Force of 10,000 troops which
entered Mandalay on 28 November, taking King Thibaw (reigned 1878-1885) prisoner and beginning an occupation of the city. Shortly after the king was sent into exile in India with Queen Supayalat, where he died in 1916, and the war culminated in the British annexation of Upper Burma on 1 January 1886. The sitters are named as follows: "Capt Milne, DAQMG; Brig Gen Foord; Col Bengough, AAG; Lt Col Laughton, PCO; Lt Ballard, RN; Capt Sanders, RA; Mr Barton Groves (Post Gen); Lt Quenton Agnew; Major Walker, DAQMG; Lt Col Protheroe, DAAG; Capt Wilkieson, RE; Surg Major Mackinnon; Col Carey, RA; Lieut Gen Prendergast, VC; Surg Gen Donelly; Lt Learoyd, RE; Capt Macpherson; Capt Aldworth, ADG; Col Sandford, CRE; Major Rowland Hill; Surg Major Sibthorpe". Hooper was a dedicated amateur photographer and his photographs of the war in Burma are considered “one of the most accomplished and comprehensive records of a nineteenth century military campaign”. It was published in 1887 as ‘Burmah: a series of one hundred photographs illustrating incidents connected with the British Expeditionary Force to that country, from the embarkation at Madras, 1st Nov, 1885, to the capture of King Theebaw, with many views of Mandalay and surrounding country, native life and industries’. There were two editions, one with albumen prints, one with autotypes, and a set of lantern slides was issued. The series is also notable for the political scandal which arose following allegations by a journalist that Hooper had acted sadistically in the process of photographing the execution by firing squad of Burmese rebels. The subsequent court of inquiry concluded that he had behaved in a “callous and indecorous” way and the affair raised issues of the ethical role of the photographer in documenting human suffering and the conduct of the British military during a colonial war.