Samuel Bourne (1834-1912) had already begun to earn recognition for his work in England, having exhibited at the London International Exhibition of 1862, when he decided to give up his position in a bank and depart for India to work as a professional photographer. He arrived in Calcutta early in 1863, initially setting up a partnership with William Howard. They moved up to Simla, where they established a new studio Howard & Bourne, to be joined in 1864 by Charles Shepherd, to form Howard, Bourne & Shepherd. By 1866, after the departure of Howard, it became Bourne & Shepherd, the name under which the firm continues to operate to this day. Although Bourne only spent 6 years in India, his time there was extremely productive. He undertook three major expeditions in the Himalayas, creating an impressive body of work which combined the highest technical quality and a keen artistic eye, while working under difficult physical conditions. Bourne left India for good in 1870, selling his interest in Bourne & Shepherd shortly thereafter and abandoning commercial photography.
This photograph depicts the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg, located in Agra, India. An important official of the Mughal empire. Ghiyas Beg served as the chief treasurer during the rule of Emperor Jahangir, and was given the title I'timād-ud-Daulah (i.e. Etmad-Dowlach), or Pillar of the State. The tomb, which is considered an architectural predecessor of the Taj Mahal, was commissioned by Nur Jahan, Ghiyas Beg's daughter and the wife of Jahangir.