The Sunderbans is an area of mangrove swamps and impenetrable forests covering over 2,500 sq. kms. at the mouth of the Hooghly River, south -east of Calcutta. The name (beautiful forests) derived from the Sunderi trees and the forest was famous for its tigers. The area now a World Heritage site, still preserves the natural habitat of 300 Bengal tigers.
The Daniells, having travelled from China across the Bay of Bengal, approached Calcutta through this delta in 1786. Once their ship entered the Hooghly, many of the British thought their perils were over and delighted in the lush vegetation. Passengers, excited to be near land again, would sometimes disembark at places like this to picnic or shoot game. Although two aquatints in A Picturesque Voyage to India (1810), nos. 2 and 3, show other views of the area, this is the only known oil painting to record the Daniell's very first impression of India.
The picture will be included in Dr. Maurice Shellim's next supplement of additional oil paintings by the Daniells as a work by William Daniell.