Beach of Madras
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the beach at Madras, taken by Frederick Fiebig in c.1851. The photograph is one of a series of hand-coloured salt prints. This is a view of an unidentified colonial building on the foreshore at Madras, which lies on the Bay of Bengal and has a long shoreline. The Marina, one of the most beautiful marine esplanades in the world, was constructed in the early 1880s and ran from San Thome Cathedral in south Madras to the north of Fort St George. Further north at George Town was the port, where the customs house was located in a building very similar to this one. Although it had no natural harbour, Madras was one of India’s major ports and handled high volumes of import and export trade with Britain and other parts of the world.
Little seems to be known about Frederick Fiebig. He was probably born in Germany and became a lithographer (and possibly was also a piano teacher) in Calcutta, publishing a number of prints in the 1840s. In the late 1840s Fiebig turned to photography using the calotype process, producing prints that were often hand-coloured. His photographs includes several hundred views of Calcutta in the early 1850s, one of the earliest detailed studies of a city, a large hand coloured collection of which were bought by the East India Company in 1856, their first major acquisition of photographs. Among the roughly 500 pictures were views of Calcutta, Madras, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Cape Town.