A fine portrait of an Indian man dressed in a Kashmir shawl and turban, the pattern on the shawl hand- tinted lightly in soft pink. The daguerreotype process produced a finely-detailed image on a silvered copper plate, usually cased as here for display in the hand. Each daguerreotype is unique. Examples of Indian portraits in this large format are extremely rare.
Although no definitive attribution has proved possible to date it is tempting to speculate that this could be the work of William Johnson, who worked with daguerreotypes in Bombay from circa 1852-54. Johnson published his book The Oriental Races and Tribes: Residents and Visitors of Bombay, 1863 and 1866, which is thought to be the earliest Indian ethnographic work to use photographs. He used glass negatives for this work, but may have made similar studies while working as a daguerreotypist. The large, and therefore expensive, format of this portrait suggests the sitter may have been of noble birth.