Old man and Boy (About 1900)
About this artwork
This photograph is typical of Bremner’s work in its well-balanced composition and keen sense of detail. The old man is framed against a white wall which acts as a blank canvas, heightening the detail of his beard and the cushion he is leaning on. The horizontal pipe then leads the focus towards the young boy perched at the end of the bed. Unlike the old man, who makes eye contact with the camera, the boy appears disinterested, looking out of the frame. Sitting in the background are three men, but Bremner, in making them out-of-focus, ensures that attention is centred on the two figures in the foreground, encouraging the viewer to question the relationship between the old man and the boy.
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.