Lucknow to Lahore | Fred Bremner’s Vision of India

  • 6th October 2012 − 22nd September 2013 | Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Changing India

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.