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EUROPEAN ARTISTS IN INDIA PRE MID 19TH CENTURY
OILS AND WATERCOLOURS
THE DANIELLS IN INDIA
Of the great European artists working in the Indian subcontinent in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was undoubtedly, the Daniells, Thomas (1749-1840) and his nephew William (1769-1837), who played a pre-eminent role in recording and documenting the country for European eyes. Their seven-year tour of India, from 1786 to 1793, and the subsequent publication of their work brought to the public in Britain an unrivalled view of the scenery and architecture of this fabled and exotic land. Other artists, notably William Hodges (1744-1797), who made a tour up the Ganges in 1780-1783, provided inspiration for the Daniells. Encouraged by Hodges' work, the Daniells set off from England in 1786 to make their fortune in India and in six years ventured further than any previous artist, completing three tours around India: up the Ganges, 1788-91, a circular tour around Mysore from Madras, 1792-93 and finally on their return journey to England in 1793 visiting Bombay and its temple sites, sketching, drawing and painting as they travelled.
Arriving back in London in 1794, the Daniells turned this substantial body of material into finished watercolours and oil paintings, which they then exhibited. On the basis of that work alone, the Daniells would have secured a prominent place in the history of Anglo-Indian art, but they then embarked on a grand and expensive project to translate their watercolours into print. From 1795 to 1808, they concentrated on producing aquatint prints for their views of India, a work they entitled Oriental Scenery. Through exhibitions of their oil paintings at the Royal Academy and British Institution in London in the early 1800s, they captured the attention and interest of the British public, focusing on this distant part of the British Empire.