Panoramic view of Pagân, looking N.N.W.
Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
Watercolour with pen and ink of a panoramic view looking north-north-west of houses and temples at Pagan (Bagan) in Burma (Myanmar) 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 (reigned 1853-1878).
The mission took place after the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852 and the annexation by the British of the Burmese province 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) River to the royal capital at Amarapura, stopping en route at various locations. In addition to diplomatic duties, the mission aimed to obtain accurate information about the country, culture and people of Burma, 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 travelled 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 Henry Yule’s ‘A Narrative of the mission sent by the Governor General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855’ published in 1858.
More than 5,000 stupas and temples still stand on the plain at Pagan, an abandoned city on the east bank of the Irrawaddy which was the royal capital of an extensive Burmese kingdom between the 11th and 13th centuries. This image is one of six panoramic views of Pagan seen from different orientations that Grant sketched from a vantage point on a temple.
Grant described the scene as follows: 'Complet[ing] the Panorama of the one-time city of Forty-five Kings. This section includes the town, and it will be observed repeats the steamers and other objects about the “Boo-Phya” or Pumpkin Pagoda. This is accounted for by its having been impracticable to sketch the whole circle from one spot. The formation of the Temple, from whence the views were taken, rendered it necessary to shift - probably fifty feet - from side to side of the building, in order to obtain the different sections of the landscape around. Making allowance for the apparent trifling inaccuracy thus created, the artist thinks it may not be unnecessary or unimportant to add that, having used some little ordinary mechanical aid, in order to fix the position of the principal objects in the landscape, he believes every reliance may be placed on the entire and strict accuracy of the general details of these drawings as a Panorama.'