Brownrigg, Thomas Marcus (1823–1901), police officer, and pioneer and experimental photographer, was born 8 June 1823 in Limerick, eldest son of Sir Henry John Brownrigg (1798–1873), inspector-general of constabulary (1858–65), and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Cooke. He entered the Constabulary of Ireland as a cadet and was appointed sub-inspector (third class) in 1842, rising to first class in 1858. He was appointed adjutant of the constabulary depot, Phoenix Park, Dublin, in 1855, and RM in 1862. He became assistant inspector-general of constabulary in 1865 and retired on an annual pension of £930 in 1877.
Brownrigg had a lifelong interest in photography, from the 1850s, when amateur photographers first began to set up societies and clubs, to the year of his death in 1901. He joined the Dublin Photographic Society (DPS) (1854–60) at its inception and remained a member until it became defunct after it was renamed the Photographic Society of Ireland (PSI) and amalgamated with the fine arts section of the RDS. He served on the council of the DPS/PSI (1857–60) and was honorary secretary in 1858–9. Brownrigg described how the DPS grew from a nucleus of photographic enthusiasts who met informally in William Allen's pharmacy at 48 Henry St., Dublin. Brownrigg's speciality was landscape photography and in April 1859 he read a paper on this subject to the DPS.
When the DPS closed down in 1860, Brownrigg and other Irish photographers joined photographic organisations in London – the established Photographic Society and the new Amateur Photographic Association (1863). He became a member of the Photographic Society in 1860 and entered photographs in the society's annual exhibitions, showing the following subjects and locations: trees in Phoenix Park, Dublin, the river at Pollaphuca, Co. Wicklow, rock scenery at Howth, Co. Dublin, the Dargle river, Co. Wicklow, and woodland scenes.
Brownrigg joined the Amateur Photographic Association in July 1863, and from 1865 to 1870 had photographs accepted each year in the association's annual exhibition, regularly being honourably mentioned by the adjudicators. He was awarded prizes from 1865 to 1867 and in 1870. In the 1870s he continued to be a regular exhibitor in the APA and was a prizewinner from 1876 to 1879. In the 1880s and 1890s he exhibited in the annual exhibition of the Photographic Society, London, his subject matter invariably being drawn from rural Surrey or from the Lake District. He travelled further afield and exhibited photographs taken in Italy (1883, 1887), Switzerland (1887), and Spain (1890).
In the early 1890s a group of photographers, committed to using photography as an artistic medium, had broken away from the Photographic Society, London. In May 1892 they set up a new organisation, the Linked Ring Brotherhood of Photographers, and held annual exhibitions called ‘the Photographic Salon’. The hallmarks of this new movement in photography, described as naturalistic or impressionistic, were the use of differential focusing or soft-focus effects and experimentation with rough-surface photographic papers. In May 1893 Brownrigg was invited to become a member. Earlier, in two Photographic Society exhibitions (1882, 1885), a reviewer had drawn attention to what he regarded as the adverse characteristic of softness in some of Brownrigg's photographs. In 1893 a photographic exhibition held in the Crystal Palace was said to be singularly free of impressionistic photographs, with the exception of Brownrigg's work. He became a Link or member of the Linked Ring on 30 May 1893, with the pseudonym ‘Magician’. He exhibited in the Photographic Salon in 1895, 1896, and 1899, serving on the Salon exhibition committee for three years. In the 1895 exhibition he showed a photograph taken at Dinard, France, a haunt of painters and photographers. He was not the only Irish person to be associated with the Linked Ring: Hildegarde Coghill of Castletownshend, Co. Cork, sister of Edith Somerville (qv), had a photograph accepted in the Salon exhibition of 1895, and John Montgomery Charles Grove of Castle Grove, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, became a Link in January 1896. His pseudonym was ‘Waterbaby’ and he exhibited in a number of Salon exhibitions in the 1890s. Brownrigg retired from the Linked Ring in June 1901 and died 19 November 1901 at his home, Artington House, Guildford, Surrey.