Lionel Wendt’s Ceylon

Lionel Wendt (1900-1944) was born in Colombo, Sri-Lanka, in 1900 the son of a Supreme Court Judge. He was educated at St Thomas’s College, Colombo but as a young man spent time in England studying piano at The Royal Academy. Coming from such a privileged background it was assumed that he would become a lawyer and he did indeed qualify and even set up a practice in Colombo for a short while but it would have been no surprise to his friends when that venture didn’t last very long and he quickly settled into the life of a concert pianist and teacher. For ten years or so he concentrated on his musical career until about 1935 when photography became his main preoccupation.

These images are all taken from the book, Lionel Wendt’s Ceylon which was published posthumously in 1950. You might legitimately expect that a book with such a title would be full of images of beautiful landscapes. There are such photographs in the book but they are outnumbered by images of lovely young men in various states of undress (and some female nudes too), and there is more than a flavour of the surreal in the work too with long and intricate titles given to images like ‘The Misery of Balanced Perplexities‘.


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