Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

Nehru announces Gandhi’s death

with 5 comments

35 Copyright Henri-Cartier Bresson

1947 found Henri Cartier-Bresson in India to document her independence. As the result of several years’ close friendship with Mahatma Gandhi, his family and closest friends, Cartier-Bresson was easily granted a photo session with Gandhi (something not all photographers can hope for). As soon as Gandhi broke his last fast, Cartier-Bresson managed to photograph Gandhi. Among these photos, which he took for LIFE, was the last photo taken of Gandhi when he was alive.

Fifteen minutes after HCB took this picture and left Gandhi’s Brila House, he heard shouts that Gandhi had been assassinated. He ran back and took the pictures of Gandhi’s family at his deathbed. However, the most emotional picture of the night is yet to come—the above picture that carried with it the cries and wails of the entire subcontinent. That night, visibly shocked Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru would announce the death of Mahatma Gandhi to the crowd outside his home.

Cartier-Bresson vividly remembered how he came to possess this iconic image. There was an anguished mob outside the Brila House, he recounted, and he took that picture at ¼ s., at I.5, by holding his breath. It was an extremely challenging shot for the photographer who never used flash. The photo was an accurate reflection of the moment that could be called the Hindu Götterdämmerung. Nehru’s face appeared slightly blurred, the face of an English officer sitting next to him was half-lit, while ghastly lights beamed at the camera from various directions. It is as if Cartier-Bresson’s Leica had captured the great Gothic moment our limited human mind cannot fathom.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

July 26, 2009 at 2:17 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. […] is a valuable guide. He photographed lots of famous folks (thinkers, artists and politicians—he shot Gandhi 15 minutes before he was, well, shot) and he captured lots of regular people—in a way that reveals […]

  2. […] Source: Magnum Photos. More on the photo from Iconic Photos. […]

  3. […] then of course there is this iconic photo of Nehru announcing the news of Gandhi’s death outside Birla House that […]

  4. […] than a journalist who had to announce a moment of fracture, and these moments can become iconic: Nehru announcing the assassination of Gandhi, Robert Kennedy on that of Martin Luther King. Today, emphasis has been given to the remarkable […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: