This painting was executed in two stages, with the architectural setting painted in situ, circa 1883. The figures were added sometime after 1889, which can be determined by the fact that the study, without the figures, is visible in a photograph of Weeks' Paris studio taken in 1889. (see D. Dodge Thompson. 'Edwin Lord Weeks, American painter of India' The Magazine Antiques CXXVIII:2 (August 1985) p. 249.)
Of the Fortress of Gwalior, Edwin Lord Weeks wrote:
'Shattered, ruinous, and rapidly falling into decay (it) still remains a striking landmark, and a unique monument in India...(It) bears the stamp of complete originality, as if its builders had been allowed to work out their own conception unhindered. I refer more specificallly to the older portion, called the palace of Man Mandir. Its long line of round sloping towers, capped with broad-rimmed cupolas, overtops the rocky ridge which rises straight from the plain, and the whole façade, within and without, is decorated with bands and panels of brilliant enamelled bricks, blue and green and vivid yellow, varied with courses of sculptured stone-work....One amusing feature is a band or ribbon of rich blue faience extending entirely round the facade, on which is a line of yellow ducks.'
Edwin Lord Weeks, From the Black Sea Through Persia and India. New York, London, Harper Brothers, 1895; pp. 246-247.
A larger version of this composition (50½ x 30½ in.),entitled The Fort at Gwalior (as of 1985, in the collection of Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan) was executed sometime after the present painting was completed (illustrated D.D. Thompson, p. 253). Although the larger painting has a more elaborate figural procession, coming towards the viewer, the architectural backdrop of the fortress is more accurately rendered in the present work, which faithfully captures, en plein air, the light, colour and detail of the scene under the oppressive heat of the Indian sun.
This work will be included in the catalogue raisonné being prepared by Dr. Ellen K. Morris. We are graetful to Dr. Ellen K. Morris for providing this catalogue entry.