• The Rope Bridge, Srinagar, India -
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    inscribed on the original mount: THE ROPE BRIDGE AT SIRINAGUR, OVER THE ALUCNINDRA, THE PRINCIPAL BRANCH OF THE RIVER GANGES and further inscribed lower right: Taken at the time of the evacuation of the/City in consequence of the approach of/a large Army from Almorah in the/Year 1789

     

    watercolour over pencil with pen and brown ink on laid Whatman paper

    58.4 by 77.5cm., 23 by 30 1/2 inches

     

    Thomas Daniell and his nephew William were among the first professional artists to visit India and their works, in watercolour and oil, are important documentation of the Indian countryside at the period. They arrived in India in 1785 and remained until 1793. The present watercolour originates from events they witnessed on 28th April 1789 at the siege of Srinagar in the North Indian kingdom of Garhwal. William noted in his diary: `in consequence of the foresaid news [of imminent attack] the inhabitants of Srinagar were crossing the river as quick as possible, they crowded on the bridge so fast that we thought at times it would have broke.?

     

    This watercolour was engraved for the Daniell?s most famous publication, Oriental Scenery, published between 1795 and 1808 and accompanying text elaborates on the subject: ?The river here is too rapid to be passed, even by boats and therefore the bridge of ropes.... offered the only means for the Rajah and his people to effect their retreat, which circumstances presented an affecting scene.... This bridge, which is 240 feet in length, is an ingenious contrivance, and so simple that it may be soon erected and soon removed.?

     

    Three oil paintings of this subject are recorded. One in the Victoria Memorial Museum, Calcutta, another in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven and the third in the India Office Library collection (see Maurice Shellim, Oil paintings of India and the East by Thomas Daniell and William Daniell, 1979, TD20, TD43 and TD64)

     

    Provenance:

    The Collection of the P. &O. Steam Navigation Company, their sale, Christie?s, 24th September 1996, lot 64, bt. by the present owner for ?50,000

     

    Exhibited:

    London, Commonwealth Institute, The Daniells in India 1786-1793, 26th August ? 25th September 1960, no.46;

    Washington, Smithsonian Institution, The Daniells in India, November 1962, no.20;

    London, Spinks, Adventurers in Eighteenth Century India: Thomas and William Daniell, 12th ? 29th November 1974, no.21

     

    Engraved:

    By Thomas and William Daniell as an aquatint engraving for Oriental Scenery, 1805, vol. IV, no.23

     

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