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.