Remembering Danish Photographer Kristen Feilberg

Kristen Feilberg

Born 173 years ago in Denmark, on 26 August 1839, Kristen Feilberg (Christen Schjellerup Feilberg) is best known for his images captured in Sumatra, Singapore, and Penang.

After giving up his dream of becoming a painter, Feilberg followed his sister to Singapore in 1862 where he worked partly as a tobacco agent and partly as a photographer. In 1867, he set up his own studio in Penang and, the same year, exhibited 15 views of Penang and Ceylon at the Paris World Exposition.

The earliest photographs of eastern Sumatra were taken by Feilberg in 1869. Considered to be of excellent quality, they include integrated group portraits of workers on tobacco plantations. They are presented in three albums entitled "Views" at the Royal Tropical Institute.

Feilberg died in Singapore in 1919.

Scores of Feilberg's photographs from the collection at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam can be accessed on Wikimedia Commons as well as at the Tropenmuseum itself.
Three Batak warriors with spears and swords in front of a wooden construction. A dog lies between the two girders at the left. Circa 1870
Batak war canoe near Lake Toba, Sumatra, 1870
Deli river, circa 1870
Batak family, circa 1870
Portrait of a Batak woman, circa 1870
Batak village, circa 1870
Portrait of workers, Deli, circa 1870
Batak, circa 1870
Dyak women, Borneo, 1860s
Rev. Habb preaching to the Klings (South Indians) in Penang, 1867