Palace of the Nawaub of the Carnatic, Madras
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the palace of the Nawab of the Carnatic at Madras, taken by Frederick Fiebig in c.1851 The Nawabs of the Carnatic were descended from an invading Mughal dynasty of the late 17th century and established a residence at Arcot. During the wars of the mid-18th century between the British and the French, the Nawab Muhammad Ali, by this time a puppet ruler of the British, sought refuge in Madras. In 1767 he secured a 117-acre site near Fort St George where he subsequently built a permanent residence known as Chepauk Palace. This is a distant view of the palace, which consisted of two blocks, one single-storied, containing his durbar hall, known as the Humayan Mahal; the other the double-storied Khalsa Mahal. The palace was designed by a European architect, probably Paul Benfield, an engineer of the British East India Company. The Nawabs remained in residence until the dynasty died out in 1855 and the palace was acquired by the government. Khalsa Mahal was subsequently incorporated into the Public Works building and Engineering College, and Humayan Mahal was integrated into the Revenue Board building, completed in 1871. 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.