Royal Hotel, Colombo.
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Frederick Fiebig from an album of 70 handcoloured salt prints, of the Royal Hotel at Colombo in Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Fiebig, of German origin, 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 capital of Sri Lanka, Colombo is a major commercial centre and port on the western coast of the island. It had long been a significant port for Arab traders, frequented in medieval times by vessels from the Persian Gulf, China and other Asian countries. From the 16th century, it evolved under various European powers, the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British. The modern metropolis and harbour were developed under British rule. There is but little trace of architecture of the Portuguese period (1505-1656), and few buildings remain of the Dutch period (1656-1796), although Dutch architecture exerted considerable influence on Colombo. Buildings such as the Royal show the British preference for the Neo-Classical and Italianate Renaissance styles.