Syed Haider Raza (India, b. 1922)
Bombay Street Scene
watercolour on paper, signed and dated '49 lower left, framed
The view depicted is from the northern end of Colaba Causeway looking over S. P. Mukharji Chowk (formerly Wellington Circle) to the Prince of Wales Museum and up the start of the southern end of Mahatma Gandhi Marg. Bombay is justly famous for the magnificent group of Victorian and Edwardian buildings of neo-Gothic, Indo-Saracenic and classical styles in this area, strung together to form varied sequences of facades and skylines amid broad streets lined with mature trees. The annual Kala Goda arts festival takes place in the stretch of Mahatma Gandhi Marg.
S. P. Mukharji Chowk contains Wellington Fountain (1865). The Museum (1908) in Bijapur Indo-Saracenic style stands in its well-tended gardens. The Institute of Science (1910) is in Classical style and now incorporates the Cowasji Jehangir Museum of Modern Art; beside it stands Elphinstone College, in neo-Gothic style. The Rajabai Tower of 1878 stands lies beyond, the highest neo-Gothic building in the city at 79 metres high, rising above the University and High Court.
At the date of this depiction, when 19th Century southern Bombay was a city cloaked in greenery, the streets are clean and traffic-free but alive with the mix of different peoples and trades, the conjunction of street activity and the architectural backdrop made for a memorably pleasant and interesting cityscape, caught in Raza's depiction with character and affection.