• The Ismail Merchant Collection auction at Christies

    Sale 5980

    The Ismail Merchant Collection

    7 October 2009, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 128

    Sikh Artist, circa 1867

    men washing Kashmir shawls in the river

    Price Realised  


    Sikh Artist, circa 1867
    men washing Kashmir shawls in the river
    pencil, pen and black ink and watercolour, heightened with bodycolour and touches of gold, within a pen and blue ink border
    12 x 18¼ in. (30.4 x 46.3 cm.)

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    The present watercolour depicts Kashmir shawls being washed by the banks of a river. A washerman treads a soap solution in a bowl, working up a lather to clean the white parts of the shawl, plain water only being applied to coloured areas. Baden Powell notes that 'the process of washing the shawls, which is quite an art in itself, is always better done in Kashmir' (i.e. than in the Punjab). Shawl operatives believed that special properties of the River Jhelum accounted for the superiority of Srinagar shawls.

    Another version of this watercolour was sold in the Niall Hobhouse Collection; Christie's, London, 22 May 2008, lot 316. The group of drawings illustrating the production of Kashmir shawls was commissioned for the 1867 Paris Exposition, for further information see Kyburg Ltd., London, Kashmir Shawls: Women Art & Cultural Document/A unique collection of Indian drawings illustrating the production of Kashmir shawls, exhibition catalogue, 1988.

    The present watercolour appeared in the film 'The Golden Bowl' (2001) in the London flat of the Assinghams, played by Angelica Huston and James Fox.