When Britain was expanding its political and economic hold over India, an artistic and technological shift was happening that enabled an accurate pictorial record of the country. By late 18th century CE, drawing and painting was making space for variety of prints (lithographs and others) recording the land, its people and their culture. A century later photographs replaced both as a more reliable visual record. After 1770, professional artists began to visit India and observe the country through the eyes of British taste. They made oil paintings for local British residents, as well as drawings, which could later be worked up in England into engravings. Suddenly the market had numerous copies of the same subject.
After the Anglo-Maratha war, the British residents started taking interest in western India. The appearance of Captain Robert Melville Grindlay’s book “Scenery, Costumes and Architecture” shows a shift of interest from Eastern to Central India, Rajputana, Deccan and Gujarat. This print captures the view of the mystical Kailash Temple at Ellora in Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, at a time when India was in the process of discovery. The late 18th to early 19th centuries were a time of many changes. History was transitioning from the medieval to the modern. Such records are important because the mid of the 19th century saw the rediscovery of an ancient India as well as the making of the modern. These prints record India as it was just before this transit.
Great Excavated Temple at Ellora
By Robert Melville Grindlay (1789 – 1877)
Drawn on the spot for the Hon Lady Hood
By Captain Grindlay in 1813
Coloured aquatint by J. B. Hogarth with etching by G. Rawle
Published in Grindlay’s Scenery, Costumes and Architecture
Chiefly on the western side of India
London, 1826 – 30
Vol. I, pl. 12
Gift by Pauline & Roy Rohatgi