The library, Colombo.
Photographer: Fiebig, Frederick
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph by Frederick Fiebig from an album of 70 handcoloured salt prints, of the library 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. Colombo, the capital and chief port of Sri Lanka, located on its west coast, evolved during the four and a half centuries of European colonial expansion under the Portuguese (1505-1656), the Dutch (1656-1796) and the British (1796-1948). It was transformed into a modern metropolis under British rule. Breakwaters were constructed to develop its harbour, new suburbs sprang up, together with factories, mills and warehouses. Britain's economic prosperity and political power found expression in the neo-classical buildings which were a hallmark of its colonial architecture.