Dr. John Murray (Scottish, 1809-1898) was a physician who entered the service of the East India Company in 1832. By 1848 he had become Civil Surgeon to Agra, where his true specialty was the fight against cholera. Starting in this period, and for the next two decades, Murray was almost as active in photography as he was in medicine. Murray’s photographs were particularly noteworthy for the large size of his paper negatives, many measuring approximately 38 x 48 cm. Given that early photographic chemistry was not equally sensitive to every color of the spectrum, skies would often appear uneven or faded and shadows areas could lose detail. To solve these problems, Murray became skilled at opaquing the sky on his paper negative with black ink and selectively masking the shadows with yellow pigment. These calotype negatives are works of art in themselves.
While on leave in London in 1857, he arranged with the print seller Joseph Hogarth to distribute prints from his negatives. Hogarth chose from a selection of more than six hundred. After a laudatory review appeared in the Morning Post in November 1857, Murray returned to India taking up a commission from the Governor General of India to photograph specific sites, including the Taj Mahal. Although he experimented with the newer collodion process, Murray remained loyal to the paper negative until the end of his photographic activities in the late 1860s.