In the late 1850s and early 1860s, the pioneering British photographer Walter Woodbury captured images of Java, and especially its capital city Batavia (modern day Jakarta). Working in partnership with James Page, the two established a photographic firm that continued to produce and sell images long after Woodbury's return to England in 1863.
Consisting of 42 albumen prints, the Woodbury Collection includes numerous images of the landscape and colonial buildings in Batavia, Buitenzorg (Bogor), and Surabaya. A few photographs capture images of the European community in Java, and local Javanese residents.
The collection is open for research.
Walter Bentley Woodbury was born in Manchester, England, in 1834 and was raised by his maternal grandfather. In 1857, still in his early twenties, Woodbury traveled to Java where he founded a busy photographic firm with James Page, and between them, they took the majority of the known photographs of Batavia (present day Jakarta) from the latter part of the 19th century. The two men, accompanied by Walter's brother, Henry James Woodbury, traveled extensively through Central and Eastern Java in 1860, relatively soon after which the photographers went their separate ways. Woodbury remained in Batavia.
In 1863, Woodbury and Page offered a list of sixteen topographical photographs of the city for sale in albumen format. These images are considered the first of their sort from Batavia, which was originally established in 1619 as a colonial supply station for the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), or the Dutch East Indies Trading Company. Prospering during the 17th and 18th centuries as part of the spice trade, Batavia was a regional center for commerce and colonial administration, but particularly after a wall was erected around the city for security, it gained a reputation as "the Graveyard of Europeans," due to the poor sanitation and the stagnation of the canal system.
Although Woodbury worked initially with the wet-plate collodion negatives and albumen positive prints, he was an avid experimenter in photography, trying his hand at photoceramics, stereoscopic photography, stereoscopic projection, balloon photography, and electromagnetic shutters. He is perhaps most widely known for the photomechanical process he developed in 1866, the Woodburytype. Woodbury died in England in 1885.
Contents of Collection
The Woodbury Collection consists of 42 medium-format albumen topographical photographs of Java produced by the firm of Woodbury and Page during the 1860s. The majority of photographs were taken in Batavia (modern day Jakarta), with a few from Surabaya and Buitenzorg (modern day Bogor). While Woodbury focused primarily on landscape, several photographs -- particularly those from Batavia -- depict members of the European community, their homes, clubs, and meeting places. Among the sites represented in the collection are the Harmonie Club House, Monlenvliet canal, Michiels Monument, Welsevreden Palace, Willems Church, the residence of Martinus Petrus Pels, and the Governor's palace at Buitzenborg. Photographs of the Tanah Abang house are annotated as "our" house by a person with the initials S.H.W., and who also locates the house in relation to other landmarks and homes in the area.
The photographs are arranged in alphabetical order by title, as supplied by S.H.W. or (perhaps) the photographer.
|Back View of Gov. Genl's. Palace at Buitenzorg, Java||ca.1865||21 x 27.5 cm.||Box 1: 1|
|Batavia Cemetery, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 1|
|Catholic School, Singapore||ca.1865||31 x 36 cm.||Box 2: 4|
|Chinaman's House at Batavia, Java [on Molenvliet]||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 5|
Tile roof house with adornment along roof peaks. Exterior of front porch adorned with hanging prints, statues, and sculptural elements. Four people sitting on porch. Believed to have belonged to the Khouw family who were local Chinese landowners. Possibly home of Khouw Kim An chairman of Batavian Chinese Council.
|Entrance to town of Batavia||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 3|
|Front View of House at Tanah Abang. Breakfast Table of the Period!||1866||31 x 41 cm.||Box 1: 3|
|Garden Scene at Kedring Badak||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 4|
|Hamlet's Ghost, Sourabaya [Surabaya], Java [Boat with Passengers and Crew]||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 4|
|Harmonie Club House, Batavia||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 5|
|Horse R.R. Station, Batavia, Java||ca.1865||32 x 40 cm.||Box 1: 5|
|Hotel Sumatra||ca.1865||24 x 32 cm.||Box 1: 6|
|House of a Batavia Merchant||ca.1865||32 x 41.5 cm.||Box 1: 6|
|House of Batavia Merchant||ca.1865||32 x 41.5 cm.||Box 1: 7|
|House of M. P. Pels, Esq., Kings Plain, Batavia, 1866||1866||35 x 40.5 cm.||Box 1: 7|
|House of Prince Radheu Saleh, Batavia||ca.1865||24 x 32 cm.||Box 1: 8|
|House of the Pels Family Next to Ours at Tanahabay||ca.1865||32 x 41 cm.||Box 1: 8|
View of house from across the road. Four figures stand looking at camera in front of gate. Martinus Petrus Pels served as the honorary vice-counsel for the United States in Batavia. He likely made his living working for a trading firm and in 1866 served as a member of the Batavian Chamber of Commerce.
|Kedirie [Kediri] River, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 9|
|Michiels Monument, Waterloo Plain, Erected in Memory of Genl. Michiels & the Troops Killed During the Three Expeditions toi Bali in 1848||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 9|
|Mr. and Mrs. Volz, Kings Plain, Batavia||ca.1865||24 x 32 cm.||Box 1: 9|
|Natives Making Sarongs and Saraps||ca.1865||24 x 32 cm.||Box 1: 10|
|Padang [Port from water]||ca.1865||22 x 28 cm.||Box 1: 10|
|Palace at Buitenzorg, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 11|
|Palace at Weltevreden, Batavia, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 1: 11|
|Pasangrahan Resting Place for Travelers at Nnangteng, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 1|
|Private House at Sourabaya [Surabaya], Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 1|
|River at Tanah Abang from Bridge in Front of Our House||ca.1865||22 x 28 cm.||Box 2: 2|
|River scene at Buitenzorg, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 2|
|River Scene in Sourabaya [Surabaya], Java||ca.1865||23.5 x 31 cm.||Box 2: 3|
|Road to Town, Batavia (Jangkeh)||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 3|
|Ryswyk Portion Harmonie, Batavia, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 4|
|Salak Mountain River, Buitenzorg, Java||ca.1865||32 x 41.5 cm.||Box 2: 4|
|Stadhuis [Town Hall] Batavia, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 5|
|Stream with Bamboo Banks at Sourabaya [Surabaya], Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 5|
|Tanabang Road, Batavia||ca.1865||32 x 37 cm.||Box 2: 6|
|Temple of Tego Wangie at Kedirie [Kediri]||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 6|
|Turn Verein, Batavia||ca.1865||35 x 41 cm.||Box 2: 7|
|View at Buitenzorg, near Batavia||ca.1865||32 x 41.5 cm.||Box 2: 7|
|View at Tanah Abang, Batavia||ca.1865||32.5 x 41.5 cm.||Box 2: 8|
|View at Tanah Abang, Batavia, Looking Down the River||1866||31 x 41 cm.||Box 2: 8|
|View from Front Veranda, House at Tanah Abang||ca.1865||31 x 41 cm.||Box 2: 9|
|Waterloo Plain -- Sunrise, Batavia, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 9|
|Willems Church (Dutch Reformed), Batavia, Java||ca.1865||30 x 39 cm.||Box 2: 10|
The Du Bois Library holds a copy of John Thomson's The Straits of Malacca, Indo-China, and China (Call no. DS507 .T49 1875a) inscribed to a Frank L. Wilson "with love from S.H.C." The handwriting in this volume seems to match that on the images, although the initials change to S.H.W., perhaps as the result of a marriage.
This collection was originally housed with the John Thomson Photograph Collection (PH 2) and the Felice Beato Photograph Collection (PH 4), which may indicate that the prints were all acquired together by S.H.W. and family while living in Indonesia.
Collection was processed by Meghan Fahey, May 2007.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Walter B. Woodbury Photograph Collection (PH 3). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.