Thomas Baines (1820-1875)
A Xhosa of the Royal House of Sandili
inscribed 'Tondash/Dundas/Fort Cox' (lower right), watercolour on paper watermark 'R TURNER/CHAFFORD MILLS'
9 x 6in. (23.5 x 15.2cm.)
In 1849, unable to find any patrons 'of refined pictorial taste in Graham's Town', Baines, low on funds, decided to return to the Cape: 'Scarcely had I come to this conclusion when a messenger from the farm informed me that the best of my horses was dead; and while reducing my equipment by the rejection of every article I could not carry upon one, I was invited by a person living at Fort Peddie to visit him and make a painting of his house.
Thinking the price, four pounds, though small when the expenses of the road were deducted, would still enable me to pay some portion of my debt, and that by extending my journey I might possibly meet with commissions from other persons, I resolved to accept his offer; and, with a couple of sovereigns borrowed from my landlord, and a side-bag well stored with home-made biscuits by his good lady, I left Graham's Town hardly knowing whither I was bound.' (T. Baines, Journal of Residence in Africa 1842-1853, Cape Town, 1961, I, p.127).
Leaving on what became known as 'the solitary journey' on 6 August, he reached Fort Knox, the location of the present work, on the morning of Thursday October 16, 1849. He left the fort on Saturday to visit the Kraal of Sandile, son of the Great Wife of the Xhosa Chief Gaika, and returned there the following Monday 'where, though the Chief was absent, I stayed nearly the whole of the day sketching the principal men' including 'a likeness of a scion of the royal family, named Dundas.' (T. Baines, op. cit., pp.146-7).