Overview

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Circle of Bhawani Das, circa 1780
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Circle of Bhawani Das, circa 1780

Giant Indian Fruit Bat (Flying Fox), Pteropus giganteus, one wing outstretched, one folded

Details
Circle of Bhawani Das, circa 1780
Giant Indian Fruit Bat (Flying Fox), Pteropus giganteus, one wing outstretched, one folded
pencil, pen and black and brown ink and watercolour with gum arabic, heightened with touches of bodycolour
23½ x 32¾ in. (59.7 x 83.2 cm.)
Exhibited
London, Niall Hobhouse, Indian Painting for the British 1780-1880, May 2001, no. 2, illustrated in colour.
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Lot Essay

The Impeys allowed other collectors of natural history drawings to make copies of their drawings. Thomas Pennant, the travel writer, recorded:
'In gratitude I must mention several to whom I am indebted for information respecting the natural history of this rich province [Bengal]. Sir Elijah Impey and his lady, gave me the most liberal access to their vast and elegant collection of drawings, made with such fidelity on the spot; to them I was indebted for permission to have several copies made by my paintress, Miss Stone, taken from the most curious subjects of their cabinet.' (see T. Pennant, The View of Hindoostan, 1798, vol. 2, p. 156).

The high quality and detailed finish of the present watercolour precludes an attribution to Sarah Stone (c.1760-1844) whose painting technique was less graphic and more naturalistic. It is most likely to have been executed by an artist from the circle of the Impey painters, and of these three artists it is closest in style to Bhawani Das, who executed and signed lot 7, another drawing of an Indian Fruit Bat or Flying Fox.

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