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The many talents of Isidore Van Kinsbergen


Isidore Van Kinsbergen was born in Bruges the son of a mother from South Netherlands  and  a father from Amsterdam. Photographer, artist, set designer, singer and director of the Théâtre Français de Batavia, Isidore van Kingsbergen trained as a lithographer and a painter before moving to Paris to study at the Paris Conservatoire de Musique et de Declamation.

In 1851 he left Europe for Batavia (Dutch Indies), where he worked first as a lithographer, décor painter and theatre maker and later, from about 1860 onwards, established himself as a photographer and opened a Photographic studio in Batavia. In 1862 he travelled as a scientific photographer with a Dutch delegation to the court of Siam (Thailand), where he photographed various monuments in Bangkok in an engaging manner. However, Van Kinsbergen became famous for the almost 400 photographs he took of Java’s antiquities at the behest of the Dutch colonial government and the Batavian Society. These include the Dieng Plateau, Prambanan, Candi Panataran and the world-famous Borobudur.

In his studio he photographed important persons as Maharaja’s and Sultans as well as dancers, nudes and ordinary people. Trained as an artist and with his background in Opera he  often used  classic poses in a theatrical way. The image process was, at that time, the new “Albumen Silver print technique”. Later in his life he established the Théatre Français de Batavia where he designed the sets and directed the Opera Productions. These images left in  legacy are a  witness of his time.

Images courtesy of The Royal Tropical Institute Amsterdam and The National (Rijks) Museum Amsterdam. Digital Retouch: Ton Kinsbergen, Amsterdam.

Isidore Van Kinsbergen, 1821-1905: Photo Pioneer and Theatre Maker in the Dutch East Indies
Published by Kitlv Press

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