Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore

Lucknow To Lahore: Fred Bremner’s vision of India charts the career of commercial photographer Fred Bremner who left Scotland for India in 1882 and spent the next 40 years there. Fred Bremner’s travels in the Indian subcontinent are recorded in these spectacular photographs.

Fred Bremner was one of the first photographers to capture the very north-western edge of the British Raj. An accomplished photographer, he had an eye for dynamic compositions.

Fred Bremner, born in 1863 in Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire and who worked in his father’s photographic studio in Banff, first went out to India to work for his brother-in-law GW Lawrie, an established photographer in Lucknow, India. His assignments took him across India and in 1889 he set up a studio in Karachi.

Fred Bremner travelled huge distances and worked in rarely photographed areas, creating a record of Imperial India’s rural life, landscapes and people.

Through Fred Bremner’s eyes we invite the visitor to get a sense of the people and places of Imperial India.

RARE OLD PHOTOS OF 19th CENTURY INDIA FROM LUCKNOW TO LAHORE

Indian Life

Fruit Market, Quetta Bazaar, Baluchistan (1900) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Boat Scene, Karachi, 1890 [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Peasant Life, Sindh, 1890 [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Bullock Cart, Sind [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Fishing on the Indus River, Sind [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Pastoral Scene, Possibly Sindh [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Pastoral Scene, Baluchistan (1900) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

In 1889, upon returning from a trip home and after finishing his term working for his brother-in-law in Lucknow, Bremner set up on his own in Karachi. Over the years he based himself in studios from Karachi to Lahore during the winter, moving to mountainous towns such as Simla during the stifling summers.

Like many commercial photographers in India he relied on portraiture to keep his business operating on a day-to-day basis but he still found time to complete personal projects. In 1900, he produced a collection of photographs called ‘Baluchistan Illustrated’, showing the diversity of the landscape and local customs. Several of his photographs depict apparently everyday scenes, although on closer inspection many are artfully arranged compositions.

Indian Artisans

Carpet Designers, Fred Bremner, 1896 [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Woodcarver, Kashmir (1896) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Making Brassware, Punjab (1902) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Multan Pottery, Punjab (1902) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Bremner produced several photographs of Indian artisans at work which hint at the abundance of material wealth that placed India at the heart of Britain’s colonial economy. Such images satisfied the huge interest in the subcontinent that had been fuelled by the International Exhibitions of London (1886) and Glasgow (1888). Displaying a rich selection of art wares, fabrics, carpeting, carved furniture and curiosities, these major events catered to the European consumer’s conception of India. The 1888 Exhibition, which included demonstrations by native craftsmen, presented Victorian Glaswegians with the opportunity to observe at close quarters some of the more ‘exotic’ subjects of their Empire.

Indian Picturesque

River crossing, River Jhelum, Kashmir, 1896 [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Jehlum River, Kashmir (1896) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

View in Baluchistan [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Chappar Rift, Khalifat Mountain, Baluchistan [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Dal River, Kashmir (1896) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Throughout his travels Bremner was struck by the expanse of the Indian landscape. His photographs often used the familiar European visual language of the Picturesque, nowhere more so than in Kashmir. Travelling there in 1896, he was following in the footsteps of poets, artists and early photographers. Like countless others before him he compared the scenery to that of Switzerland, writing: ‘Switzerland is without the charm of oriental life, the quaint manners and customs of the people . . . which all add to the attractions of a trip to the Valley of Kashmir’.

Changing India

Louise Marguerite Bridge, Chappar Rift, Khalifat Mountain, Baluchistan, 1889 [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Railway tunnel, Punjab (1902) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Men Quarrying, Baluchistan [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

In the mid to late-nineteenth century, the British oversaw the development of infrastructure throughout the Indian subcontinent with the intention of exerting greater economic and political control. Photographers were perfectly placed to document this process. Bremner produced several photographs, often as commissions, capturing the changing landscape. He wrote: ‘Since my arrival in India in the year 1882 the great Empire has passed through many changes. . . I have seen railways extending from hundreds to thousands of miles to carry the millions of people as well as great produce of the country . . . By whom has this been done? Obviously there can only be one answer – the Political Services of Great Britain and Ireland and British Engineers’. However, Bremner’s comments do not acknowledge the thousands of Indian labourers without whom the work could not have been achieved and the exclusion of Indian investors from a profitable enterprise.

Portraiture

Nawab Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, Begum of Bhopal (1858-1930), 1920 [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

His Highness the Khan of Kalat and Sons (1893) [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Afghan Warriors [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Old man and Boy [Rare Old Photos Of 19th Century India From Lucknow To Lahore]

Like many commercial photographers in India Bremner relied on portraiture to keep his business operating on a day-to-day basis. His business took him to the rarely photographed areas of Baluchistan and Sindh, in what is modern day Pakistan. By 1889, he had set up his own studio in Karachi and another in Quetta, the growing capital of the province of Baluchistan. Travelling along the northern edge of British India Bremner photographed colonial officers and members of the native aristocracy.

Fred Bremner Biography

Fred Bremner (Scottish, 1863 - 1941)

Fred Bremner, the son of a professional photographer in Banff, travelled to India in 1882 and worked there for nearly forty years. He moved all the time, covering vast distances to photograph colonial officers and their families as well as members of the native aristocracy. Bremner was fascinated by the Indian caste system, publishing a volume in 1897 titled 'Types of the Indian Army' illustrating the 'various races' enlisted as troops.

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2 Comments

  1. Wow...spell bounded by these photographs. Thank you for posting

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  2. great.never seen these pics earlier,i am a pakistani and hv travelled almost whole of it,spc.sindh and balochistan,we hv most beautiful land but politically targettes,the minerals of balochistan i enough for prosperty of people of pakistan ,but who cares?it is pity..

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