A rather unusual photograph in many ways, this image appears to depict a Jemadar of the 81st Pioneers and was taken sometime in the early 1900s apparently in London, England.
The round format photograph is mounted on a double paper mount slightly larger than the more traditional cabinet photograph. Both the larger speckled gray paper backing and the smaller round beige accent piece just behind the image are high-quality art paper. The work is hand-signed by Russian-born but London-based photographer Louis Saul Langfier.
While this Indian officer's regimental badge is visible on his turban his actual rank is a
bit more of a semi-educated guess on my part. After a bit of initial research, I have been unable to determine the exact reason for this man being in London. My first impression was that he may have taken part in the coronation celebration for Edward VII in August 1902 but the 81st was established in 1903 a year after the coronation. Its previous designation was the 21st Madras Pioneers.
Up until the time this portrait was taken this officer has seen a good deal of active service in the field. He wears three campaign medals the first of which is the 1854 India General Service Medal with a single clasp. The second medal is the 1896 India General Service Medal with three clasps and the last medal appears to be the 1900 China War Medal issued for service
during the so-called Boxer Rebellion in that year. The 21st Pioneers did not serve in China as a unit but this man may have been a member of another regiment at the time or possibly been seconded for service in China.
Paper Mounted Photograph
4 7/8 Inches by 7 7/8 Inches (Photograph - 3 Inches Diameter)
12.5cm x 19cm
Louis Saul Langfier - Photographer
23a Old Bond Street, London, England