In Association with Amazon.com Order

IMAGES OF BRITISH CEYLON: Nineteenth Century Photography of Sri Lanka

Ismeth Raheem and Percy Colin-Thome
Times Editions, Singapore, 2000
Hardcover, 155 pgs., $75

The publication of Images of Britsh Ceylon is a landmark event in the history of photography in the Indian subcontinent. It rather suddenly opens the door on the rich tradition of photography that flourished here early in the birth of the medium. The authors marshall page after page of fresh facts and stories, unveiled against larger British Ceylonese social and economic contexts.

Above all, they focus on the great photographers and firms who easily match the traditional masters of British Indian photography: Skeen & Co., Charles Scowen, Plate & Co., the Andres, Frederich Fiebig and others. The book introduces such unknown artists as Madame Del Tufo, whose lush photographs of bedrooms and kitchens illuminate portions of the Raj rarely photographed. Ismeth Raheem and Percy Colin-Thome have laid the groundwork for many future studies.

That said, the quality of photographic reproductions is often sadly lacking. A $75 dollar book should exceed ones expectations in visual splendor. (A much briefer exhibition companion REGENERATION, also by Raheem, is very well printed).

Nonetheless, this book is essential for those interested in this rapidly growing field. It is a testimony to the diligence of an individual researcher, who can put a forgotten era of human history in relief through years of hard work. There certainly is nothing as comprehensive yet available on British Indian photography. Images of Ceylon is available from Ismeth Raheem.

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