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Rangoon - from platform of the Great Pagoda

Rangoon - from platform of the Great Pagoda

Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: WD540(1)

Item number: 5401

Length: 327

Width: 478

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Topographical Drawing

Watercolour in pen and ink of a view of Rangoon (Yangon) in Burma (Myanmar) from the platform of the Shwe Dagon Pagoda from 'A Series of Views in Burmah taken during Major Phayre’s Mission to the Court of Ava in 1855' by Colesworthy Grant. This album consists of 106 landscapes and portraits of Burmese and Europeans documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.1853-1878).

The mission followed the ending of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the annexation of Pegu (Bago). It was despatched by the Governor-General of India Lord Dalhousie on the instructions of the East India Company, to attempt to persuade King Mindon to sign a treaty formally acknowledging the extension of British rule over the province. The mission started out from Rangoon and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) to the royal capital at Amarapura. Grant (1813-1880) was the official artist of the mission. In recognition of his skill, he was presented with a gold cup and ruby ring by the Burmese King. A number of his drawings were used for illustrations to Henry's Yule’s 'A Narrative of the mission sent by the Governor General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855' published in London in 1858.

Grant described this view as follows: "The view contained in the accompanying plate is taken from the platform of the Great Pagoda, looking over the town and river towards Dalla. The rustic tiled building in the foreground is a military store godown. The extensive line of triple roofs on the left, commencing at the large gateway which terminates the main street, covers the long flight of ornamented stairs, which gradually ascend the mound on which the great Pagoda stands, and lead to its principal entrance. The prominent object seen at the side is merely one of the accessary or petty pagodas, ornamenting the upper parts of the slope near to the entrance. Beyond are seen the capacious and healthy barracks for the British troops, ranged along the brow of the hilly ground skirting the north-east side of the town, Rugged and hitherto almost impassable ground in that direction has been levelled and cut into fine roads, leading to, and environing the picturesque lake, the scenery about which is exceedingly pretty and European in its aspect. The Pagoda which may be observed converted into a signal tower, is memorable as Sale's Pagoda, a post held by Major-afterwards the celebrated Sir Robert-Sale, and a portion of Her Majesty's 13th Light Infantry, during the war of 1824-25. Of the two other pagodas seen nearer to the river, nearly solitary remnants of the old town of Rangoon, that to the right, octagonal in form, and in excellent preservation, has been made to mark the centre of the new town. In 1846 it was nearly surrounded by a swamp, and reached by a long wooden bridge. It is now the centre obelisk to a square, with its diverging roads, as dry, smooth and orderly as Charing-cross, or the Place de la Concorde. The more strictly native part of the town is observed on the right.'

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