Lake scenery near Colombo (Slave Island).
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Frederick Fiebig from an album of 70 handcoloured salt prints, of Slave Island 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. Colombo, on the west coast, is the capital and commercial heart of Sri Lanka. Its artificial harbour, enclosed by breakwaters, is bounded on the south by a slight promontory which is occupied by that part of the city called the Fort, after a now non-extant fort founded by the Portuguese and reconstructed by the Dutch. To the north-east of the Fort is Colombo's fresh-water Beira Lake. The narrow isthmus between the lake and the sea is called Galle Face. The peninsula between the two arms of the lake was known as Slave Island because in the 16th and 17th centuries slaves were confined here in the night without guards as there were crocodiles in the lake. Slaves were shipped to Sri Lanka from Zanzibar in East Africa and auctioned at Slave Island. Slavery was not abolished on the island till 1845.