Lake scenery, Ceylon.
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Frederick Fiebig from an album of 70 handcoloured salt prints, of scenery in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Fiebig, of German origins, was active in Calcutta as an artist and lithographer in the 1840s. Little is known about his life, but turning to photography in the late 1840s he produced hundreds of photographs by the calotype process, frequently handcolouring them. His photographs of Ceylon, probably taken in 1852, are considered the earliest surviving photographic record of the island. The beautiful, teardrop-shaped island was described by Marco Polo as 'the finest island of its size in all the world'. Before the arrival of European colonists Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was composed of independent Sinhalese kingdoms. The cinnamon crop initially brought Portuguese and Dutch traders to the island in the 16th century and they established towns around the coastline, making Colombo the capital. The Dutch formally ceded Sri Lanka to the British in 1802 by the Peace of Amiens and in 1816 supremacy of the island passed from the indigenous Rajas of Kandy to the British. They commercialised the island by the development of tea and coffee plantations, a common administrative system and an extensive road building policy.