A portrait of Federico Peliti in Oriental clothes.

Federico Peliti (1844-1914) is my great-grandfather. He was born near Turin, in Northern Italy, and went to India in 1868 as a caterer to the Viceroy, the Earl of Mayo. After the assassination of the Viceroy, he established himself as an independent caterer and hotel director, with establishments in Calcutta and Simla. His Simla restaurant is mentioned in Rudyard Kipling's short story "The Phantom Reekshaw" (1888), and, in passing, in his poem "Divided Destinies". He had been trained as a sculptor in his youth, and while sculpting from time to time as a hobby, he became a more and more passionate photographer as time went on. A great part of his production now belongs to the Calcografia Nazionale in Rome. "Peliti's veranda" in Simla is mentioned in Thomas Pynchon's novel "Against the Day".

Luca Peliti


These photos are taken from the book: Federico Peliti: An Italian photographer in India at the times of Queen Victoria, edited by Marina Miraglia (Peliti Associati, Rome, and Corner House, London, 1995).

A recollection of Federico Peliti by Major H. Hobbs, published in 1938, can be found here.

A humorous poem on Peliti's in the 1920's (when my grandfather Giovanni was in charge), by JM Symns, sent to me by his grandchild Jonathan Boucher, can be found here.