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Panorama Sherpur from Fort Onslow [Kabul].

Panorama Sherpur from Fort Onslow [Kabul].

Photographer: Burke, John

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1879

Shelfmark: Photo 430/3(87)

Item number: 87

Length: 19.2

Width: 85

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Photographic panorama composed of three joined prints, showing the Sherpur Cantonment near Kabul with the village of Bemaru in the left foreground, taken by John Burke, 1879-80. Panoramas were difficult to achieve with precision and were high forms of the photographer's art. Burke took atleast nine of Kabul. They are all part of the series of images providing a visual document of the country which resulted in Burke achieving renown as the first significant photographer of Afghanistan and its people. The British became involved in Afghanistan, trying to create a buffer state and protect their Indian empire in the face of Russian expansion in Central Asia. The Anglo-Russian territorial rivalry created what came to be known as the Great Game between the powers. In 1878 Burke accompanied British forces into Afghanistan, despite being rejected for the role of official photographer. He financed his trip by advance sales of his photographs 'illustrating the advance from Attock to Jellalabad'. In his two-year expedition in Afghanistan during the Second Afghan War (1878-80), Burke became the photographer of the region where the strategies of the Great Game were played out.

The Sherpur cantonment, situated a mile north of Kabul, was planned by Sher Ali (1825-1879), Amir of Afghanistan, as the main winter headquarters of his army. The main wall of the cantonment was over a mile and a half long with massive towers at regular intervals for artillery. During the occupation of Kabul from October 1879 through the summer of 1880, General Roberts and his troops took over the cantonment.

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