Thomas Alfred Rust (1841 - 1904)
Thomas Alfred Rust was a professional photographer, who was patronized by h.e. the earl of Mayo & by H. R. H. the Duke of Edinburgh.
He was born about 1825 in Stepney, London, United Kingdom. Presumably Thomas Rust studied medicine. Nevertheless at the age of 27 he started his photography business. Thomas married Julia Clark in 1872 and they had 5 children. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information about his life and career.
The first recording of Thomas’s professional activity dates 1860s. T.A. had been in partnership with a Timothy Le Beau. They had two studios Le Beau & Rust in Bayswater Athenaeum and Westbourne Grove. Partnership dissolved in October 19, 1865 (London Gazette, 1865). They were listed as bankrupt in Perry's Bankrupt (Gazette October, 1865). The next recording of Thomas Rust as a photographer was in 1869 when he was working as an assistant to F.W. Baker in Calcutta. Just one year later he was running the Calcutta Photographic Company with W. T. Burgess and did so until 1874, so we can assume that he was already an experienced professional photographer before joining Baker. In 1874 Rust opened five of his own studios in Allahabad, Mussoorie, Murree, Landour and Meerut. After Thomas’s death on 16th April 1904 at 102 Redcliffe Gdns, Earls Court, they were inherited by his son Julian. In those early days of photography, Rust took to the new technology like a fish to water. His images of the rich and famous brought him instant recognition, fame and soon he was a man of considerable means.
We know a story told by writer and photographer Ganesh Saili, an old resident of Mussoorie, who had a collection of old pictures of Landour and Mussoorie. In 1970s he discovered a treasure at the storeroom of the Municipal committee. From here, he was able to rescue from certain oblivion, the last few plates of T.A. Rust the celebrated photographer of the 1880s. "And then, friends, acquaintances, collectors and photographers from all over the world sent in old pictures of our little Himalayan hill station as it used to be in the 19th century", says Saili.
Thomas Rust‘s landscapes are considered very artistic and he may well have had some formal training in this area. He was also famous tableau vivant or “living picture” (which was one of the most popular forms of amateur performance and entertainment for the middle and upper classes during the nineteenth century). One of them is The Game of Life, ca. 1895
Thomas Alfred Rust was buried in Kensington cemetery.