Eastern gate of the Jummah Musjid at Delhi, by Thomas Daniell, print, aquatint, 1795, London.
This depicts one of the entrances to the Jami Masjid, with steps leading up to an imposing gateway. There is a procession with elephants in the foreground.
This is one of a set of twenty-four prints published by Thomas and William Daniell in March 1795 under the title 'Oriental Scenery'. Printed in London, it would have been the first image produced by them to be seen by the wider British public. This impressive composition captured the grandeur of the architecture and the excitement and splendour of the procession in the foreground. It immediately conveyed the visual delights that India had to offer as well as the artist's skill in portraying it.
Thomas and his young nephew William produced a visual record of India that surpassed the work of any other artists of the period. Their series of 144 hand-coloured aquatints published between 1795 and 1808 were an instant commercial success in Britain, greatly increasing knowledge of India.
The Daniells arrived in Calcutta in 1786 and set up a printing studio. Their first set of prints depicted the city and the profits from these financed their travels across India. Aware of the success of artist, William Hodges, they followed in his footsteps, travelling through much of north India and then up to the Himalayas. Three years later in 1791, they returned to Calcutta with 150 completed oil paintings. In 1792, a further eight month tour of South India resulted in some of their finest works.
The Daniells usually worked together, with William drawing the outlines with the aid of a camera obsucra, an optical device used to project an image onto paper which the artist could then trace, and Thomas adding the tonal washes and finishing touches.
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