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AN ARCHITECTURAL STUDY OF DELHI, NAQSH-I-SALEEM GARH-W-TRIPOLIYA (THE VIEW OF SALEEM GARH AND TRIPOLIYA)

AN ARCHITECTURAL STUDY OF DELHI, NAQSH-I-SALEEM GARH-W-TRIPOLIYA (THE VIEW OF SALEEM GARH AND TRIPOLIYA)

Item Description:



Company School, North India, Delhi, c. 1830

Ink and watercolour on paper, inscribed in Urdu in the lower margin

3 x 4 7/8 in. (7.6 x 12.5 cm.)

The current painting and the following lot were part of a now dispersed group of Company School paintings depicting views of Delhi that conform to a style associated with the second quarter of the 19th century. The current view depicts the Delhi palace and the Salimgarh fort with the connecting bridge, from the north. The Red Fort was the seat of the Mughal power until 1857, when Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor, was dethroned and exiled. The Fort was commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1639 and took nine years to build. The wall on the northeastern side is adjacent to the older Salimgarh fort, which was built by the son of Sher Shah Sur, Islam Shah (r. 1545-54). Islam Shah was also known as Salim Shah, and it is after him that the Salimgarh fort is named. The Emperor Jahangir later added a bridge that connected it to the Red Fort. The word tripoliya seems to refer to this bridge, although it actually has more than three openings.


The painting is very similar to another version of the same view contained in an album titled Reminiscences of Imperial Delhi that now forms part of the British Library collection. The album contains a hundred and thirty paintings of views of Mughal and pre-Mughal monuments in and around Delhi. The accompanying text is handwritten by Sir Thomas Metcalfe (1795-1853), the Governor-General’s Agent at the Imperial Court.


He describes the view giving a detailed and largely accurate history of the buildings depicted. ‘The subjoined is a view from the Terrace of Mr. Metcalfe’s House of a portion of the Palace of Dehly built by the Emperor Shah Jahan and of the Pattan Fortress of Suleem Gurh, constructed by the Emperor Suleem Shah, son of the Pattan adventurer Shere Shah by whom the Moghul Emperor Hoomaioon was temporarily expelled from the throne of Dehly. The latter must have been built about the year 1539. The Bridge connecting the two, although in some degree assimilating to the Patan style of architecture, was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan at the same time with the Palace. The name Saleem Garh being associated with recollections derogatory to the dignity of the Imperial House of Timour, is never mentioned in the Royal presence or used in correspondence to and from His Majesty, that of Noor Garh or the Fortress of Light, being substituted. N.B. In this I am incorrect. I have lately seen the inscription on the Bridge to the purport that it was built by the Emperor Jahangeer (Conqueror of the World) the Father of the Emperor Shah Jahan about the year AD 1607.’


One hundred of the paintings in Thomas Metcalfe’s album including another version of the current view are by the Delhi School artist Mazhar Ali Khan. Although little is known about the artist, Jerry Losty has suggested that he was ‘probably related to Gulam Ali Khan, and initially trained under him.’ According to Losty and Roy, 'Gulam Ali Khan (fl. 1817-1852) was both the originator of the Delhi topographical school and the first Mughal artist to exploit the trend towards the picturesque.' (J. P. Losty and Malini Roy, Mughal India; Art, Culture and Empire, London, 2012, p. 218) Prior to Gulam Ali Khan's innovations, pictures of Mughal monuments in Delhi and Agra, painted by local artists for the British in the 'Company Style' were strictly architectural and drawn in a single or double point perspective. The paintings were devoid of humanity or any elements of the natural environment, but by 1820, the monuments began to be placed within their urban or topographical context, and figures and animals were then added to complete the mood.


Although the current painting and the following lot are similar to the views by Mazhar Ali Khan in the Metcalfe Album, the detailing in both is even more refined and the scenes are more populated with incidental figures. It is therefore tempting to suggest that these may represent the work of Gulam Ali Khan, his teacher. Although, without an inscription, or further evidence coming to light, it is not possible to attribute the works to either Gulam Ali Khan or Mazhar Ali Khan, they are, undoubtedly, by a master from the Delhi atelier.

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AN ARCHITECTURAL STUDY OF DELHI, NAQSH-I-SALEEM GARH-W-TRIPOLIYA (THE VIEW OF SALEEM GARH AND TRIPOLIYA)

Listed price: $200,000.00
 

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