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Pictorial Bombay

  • The guidebook [i]Pictorial Bombay[/i] is a light-hearted portrayal of Bombay and its inhabitants as seen by an outsider, the German emigrant Ernst Schaeffer, through photos and texts in 1936.
  • Guidebook
  • Pictorial Bombay

    Word Count: 2

  • Ernst N. Schaeffer
  • New Book Co.
  • 1936
  • Travel guide in booklet form (76 pages; text & 40 black and white whole-page photos, 9 small black and white photos)

  • New Book Co., Kitab Mahal, Hornby Road, Fort, Mumbai (192 Dr. Dadabhai Naoroji Road, Kitab Mahal, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India)

  • English
  • 21.5cm x 16.5cm

  • Mumbai (IN)
  • The guidebook Pictorial Bombay is a light-hearted portrayal of Bombay and its inhabitants as seen by an outsider, the German emigrant Ernst Schaeffer, through photos and texts in 1936.

    Word Count: 28

  • Three years after escaping from Nazi Germany and docking at Bombay’s shores, Ernst Schaeffer (1892–1978) published his travel guide Pictorial Bombay: an album with 40 full-page black and white photographs and an accompanying independent text of a similar number of pages. Nine small black and white photos complete the book.

    The first and leading bookstore and publisher in Bombay, the New Book Co. Pvt. Ltd. in the Kitab Mahal, owned by the Taraporevala family, printed Pictorial Bombay in time for pre-Christmas sale in 1936. In 1936 the bookstore was located at 210 Hornby Road, with a branch in the Taj Mahal Hotel at Apollo Bunder to serve an elite Indian and high-class foreign clientele.

    Perhaps Schaeffer chose the cover image of Pictorial Bombay to appeal to I.H. Taunton, who endorsed the publication in his foreword. As the municipal commissioner, Taunton directed the work of the Municipal Corporation and worked in the building. In his foreword Taunton highlighted the “unusual viewpoint[s]” from which Schaeffer took his photographs. His colonial stamp of approval likely added to Pictorial Bombay’s appeal to the English-speaking civic elite. While Schaeffer may have been committed to communicating Bombay’s everyday urban life, he was also aware of his potential market, aiming to please them without compromising his artistic vision.

    Schaeffer’s exile experience as a mediator (see Reiter 2006) made it possible to create Pictorial Bombay as a kind of hybrid publication, in both form and content. It is a guidebook without maps or timetables; an artbook with restaurant recommendations and insider tips; a coffee table book with tour routes, excursions and a programme of evening entertainment. Its portrayal of the city includes photos from unusual angles, anecdotes and journalistic texts from the perspective of a stranger. In the guidebook, Schaeffer leaves the beaten path of 1930s sightseeing in Bombay and takes the position of a curious explorer on foot. He studied the urban logic of Bombay with his lenses, shifting his gaze away from the colonial monuments and buildings towards the people of Bombay.

    Using a modern, light Rolleiflex camera he was able to move and work quickly while engaging in the city’s everyday life; he dissolved the distance between the subject and the viewer by locating the viewer at street level. His photographic encounters are shaped by his curiosity as a photojournalist and his enthusiasm as a new Bombayite to document his surroundings. With his words he addresses his readers personally and takes them along on a virtual “stroll around the town” creating a group feeling, a togetherness, a sense of ‘we’.

    Schaeffer’s in-between status and his interest in the local urban landscape, the inhabitants of Bombay, the surrounding districts with their rice-fields, beaches, coconut plantations and farms, enabled him to create this unique guidebook. He mediates between the different classes of Bombay, creating virtual access to the Taj Mahal Hotel as well as to the Willingdon Club, a sugar-cane vendor at Null Bazar, smokers in the Jogeshwari Caves and sailors at their small boats. Schaeffer’s premier interest in the people of Bombay draws his attention away from the monuments, and towards the city’s social life. With this self-generated knowledge of the by-lanes of Bombay and its inhabitants, he remaps Bombay as a tourist location. He recreates the social space of Bombay as a touristscape through text, photos and his individual perspective (see Franz/Lee 2022).

    Word Count: 562

  • Front cover of Pictorial Bombay (Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
  • Ernst Schaeffer, Sugar Cane Juice Presser (Pictorial Bombay, p. 27; Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
    Ernst Schaeffer, Null Bazaar (Pictorial Bombay, p. 31; Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
    Ernst Schaeffer, View from the Jogeshwari Caves (Pictorial Bombay, p. 60; Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
    Ernst Schaeffer, Apollo Bunder (Pictorial Bombay, p. 73; Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
    Ernst Schaeffer, Mumbadevi Temple (Pictorial Bombay, p. 38; Photo: Margit Franz 2021).
  • Anonymous. “Schäffer, Ernst (1892–1978) .” Kalliope-Verbund, Accessed 30 June 2021.

    Franz, Margit. Gateway India: Deutschsprachiges Exil in Indien zwischen britischer Kolonialherrschaft, Maharadschas und Gandhi. CLIO, 2015.

    Franz, Margit and Rachel Lee, “An Exile’s Guide: Ernst Schaeffer’s Pictorial Bombay and the Construction of Bombay’s Touristscape.” Urban Exile: Theories, Methods, Research Practices, edited by Burcu Dogramaci et al., Intellect Ltd., forthcoming 2022.

    Ganor, Sheer and Rebekka Grossmann, “Displacement in Stills: German-Jewish Photographers on the Move.” Migrant Knowledge, May 14, 2021, Accessed 24 July 2021.

    Krishnamoorthy, Kaushalya. India and the Exile Experience as Mirrored in the Writings of Jewish Exiles and Indian Writers. Doctoral thesis, Wayne State University, 2003. ResearchGate, Accessed 20 March 2021.

    Reiter, Andrea. “Diaspora und Hybridität: Der Exilant als Mittler.” Diaspora – Exil als Krisenerfahrung. Jüdische Bilanzen und Perspektiven (Zwischenwelt Jahrbuch, 10), edited by Armin Eidherr et al., Drava Verlag, 2006, pp. 36–51.

    Roth, Helene “‘First Pictures’: New York through the Lens of Emigrated European Photographers in the 1930s and 1940s.” Contact Zones: Photography, Migration and Cultural Encounters in the United States, edited by Justin Carville and Sigrid Lien, Leuven University Press, 2021, pp. 111–132.

    Schaeffer, E.N. Pictorial Bombay. New Book Co., [1936].

    Schaeffer, Ernst Nathan. “Feast in Bhopal. A Marriage Unites Two of India’s Leading Muslims.” Life, 19 June 1939, pp. 44–48.

    Schaeffer, Ernest N. “Emigrantenleben in Indien.” Aufbau, vol. 7, no. 18, 2 March 1941, p. 7.

    Shaffer, Ernest N. Ein Emigrant entdeckt Indien. Verlag Information und Wissen, 1971.

    Voigt, Johannes H. “Die Emigration von Juden aus Mitteleuropa nach Indien während der Verfolgung durch das NS-Regime.” Wechselwirkungen, Jahrbuch aus Lehre und Forschung der Universität Stuttgart, 1991, pp. 83–95.

    Word Count: 275

  • Private Archive Margit Franz, Sinabelkirchen

    The Times of India [Mumbai] Archive on ProQuest, via Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin: Accessed 30 June 2021.

    Word Count: 23

  • Margit Franz; Rachel Lee
  • Bombay
  • No
  • Margit Franz; Rachel Lee. "Pictorial Bombay." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 21-09-2021.
  • Ernst N. Schaeffer
    JournalistPhotojournalistTour GuideEditorRadio ModeratorNewspaper Correspondent

    In exile Ernst Schaeffer diversified his journalistic practice and developed an understanding of Bombay through walking the city streets, taking on street-level-photography and photojournalism.

    Word Count: 24

    New Book Co.
    Publishing HouseBook Shop

    This bookstore was a hub for Bombay's creatives and intellectuals.

    Word Count: 10