In 1907 Hornel and his sister Tizzy sailed to Ceylon to visit their cousin James Hornel who worked as a government Marine biologist in Columbo. James may have taken some of these photographs; which come from glass plate negatives in the Broughton house collection.

They visited the pearl fisheries, the old fortified town of Galle in the south, to see lace-makers, and central highlands to visit the tea plantations. Hornel wrote to a friend suggesting it was really difficult to paint at the pearl fisheries because of the heat and the smell – and that he was busy making a ‘tremendous lot of studies’; which could refer to both oil sketches and photographs.

Interestingly, this collection is the only place we find images of men. All of the photographs are taken with a western eye; they serve as reminders of the imbalance of power between ‘native’ and onlooker.


In August 1920 Hornel and Tizzy sailed to Burma on SS Burma, the first part of a year long journey that took them to Japan, Canada and America. Hornel was in search of new inspiration and to return to the place he and Henry had visited almost thirty years previously.

In Burma Hornel was taken to a theatre by two Burmese painters, after he had expressed a desire to compose a painting of girls dancing. 

The manager brought out his best dancers and agreed to help Hornel capture photographs of the girls posing so he could obtain details of traditional Burmese dance.