Thayet-myo, from the Steamer, looking north
Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
Drawing in pen-and-ink and watercolour made by Colesworthy Grant in 1855, depicting a view of the bank of the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River at Thayetmyo in Magway, Burma (Myanmar). The drawing is from an album of 106 landscapes and portraits of Burmese and Europeans documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (reigned 1853-1878), titled “A Series of Views in Burmah taken during Major Phayre’s Mission to the Court of Ava in 1855”. The mission started out from Rangoon and travelled up the Irrawaddy to the royal capital Amarapura. This view at Thayetmyo was described by the artist as follows: “The view to the north contains an interesting group of pagodas, with the customary tzoums and ziyats attached, but seen from so great a distance are necessarily small and undefined in character.” The mission followed the ending of the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the annexation by the British of the Burmese province of Pegu (Bago), and 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. It was headed by Arthur Phayre (Commissioner of Pegu and later first Chief Commissioner of British Burma), with Henry Yule (Under-Secretary of the Public Works Department) as Secretary. In addition to diplomatic duties, the mission aimed to obtain accurate information about the country, culture and people of a land little-known to Europeans, and to this end Grant was sent as official artist and Linnaeus Tripe as photographer. Grant (1813-1880) had come to India in 1832 where he lived in Calcutta and worked as a professional artist and freelance journalist, travelling to Rangoon in 1846. In recognition of his skill, he was presented with a gold cup and ruby ring by the Burmese King. Together with a privately-printed book of notes, his drawings give a vivid account of the journey, and a number were used for illustrations to Yule’s “A Narrative of the mission sent by the Governor General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855” (London, 1858).