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[Coastal scene], Outskirts of Madras
Salt print, hand-coloured
Courtesy of the British Library, Image number: 24826, Shelfmark: Photo 248/(26)
A hand-coloured salt print, this photograph of a coastal scene on the outskirts of Madras was taken by Frederick Fiebig in c.1851. Madras was founded in 1639 by the British East India Company and became the first important English settlement in India and a busy port. It is situated close to sea level on the Coromandel Coast, a low-lying strip of land which stretches more than 644 km (400 miles) along the east coasts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. This is a view of one of the palm-fringed beaches with rolling surf on the outskirts of the city.
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.