Foy Nissen was perhaps Mumbai’s most memorable chroniclers. He photographed people, festivals, places and monuments and his images of the city are invaluable to the preservation of Mumbai’s heritage. He wandered the streets of Fort detailing its combination of Neo-Gothic and Art Deco buildings. His meticulous work provided the base for Mumbai’s first heritage list which then helped develop legislation to preserve the city’s heritage precincts.
Can you solve this special jigsaw of the David Sassoon Library based on a photograph by Foy Nissen ?
In collaboration with the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation (JNAF), we bring you a look into the Library’s interiors through Nissen’s lens : spot those wicker chairs, vintage tiles, wooden louvred windows and the ornamental pillars!
# puzzle pieces might just be on top of each other – look carefully!
# make sure you have observed the photograph before you start. In case you need to see the image again, scroll down or hit the picture icon on the bottom left
# hint: we found it easy to piece the staircase at the beginning!
# Share your finished piece with us using #HeritageJigsaw and tag @theheritagelab & @JNAFMumbai on Instagram & Twitter (JNAF_Mumbai) to be featured!
The David Sassoon Library
Named after the Jewish philanthropist David Sassoon (who funded it’s construction), this library was built in 1870. Among it’s collection of rare books, there is a book of letters written to Queen Anne. This is also where B.R Ambedkar would go on to write the final draft of the Indian Constitution.
It was the 1990s that saw Mumbai’s heritage movement find its voice. But Nissen was way ahead of it, photographing and documenting his beloved city bit by bit starting way back in the 60’s.
According to Dr. Patel of Bombaywalla though, Foy’s tryst with the city’s heritage started as early as an 8-year old!
“What is fascinating is the young boy Foy was featured in The Times of India on a regular basis. Foy was one of the dozen or so Indian children who was winning various drawing and colouring competitions at the Royal Drawing Society in London. What is really heartening is there seems to be a whole society of these talented children spread across India- Indore, Hubli, Calcutta, Bandra, Thana, who were participating in these competitions and being exhibited in London. All this is documented on a very endearing page in The Times of India called Junior’s Corner, which had jokes for kids and card tricks, and birthday wishes.”
As Foy grew up to become the “internet of his times”, he had writers, artists, conservationists and scholars all gravitate to his home Olympus, in Altamount Road to learn more about the city. They would often be swept off to all his favourite haunts on his Vespa scooter. Most writers on the city acknowledge a debt of gratitude to this chronicler of the what was once christened the urbs prima in India, for being so generous with his scholarship.
Take a look at his chronicles of Mumbai’s heritage hotspots!
In 2019, the JNAF held an exhibition titled “Foy Nissen’s Bombay” showcasing over fifty years of work by the lensman who combined a keen sensibility with a quiet discipline. It also celebrated the generous gift by the estate of Foy Nissen, of the complete range of his photographic work to the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation.
In October 2020, JNAF asked the people of Mumbai, to respond to Foy’s photographs with sketches!
Take a look at these in the story above & at the JNAF collection : on Instagram!