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The White Elephant Palace, within Royal Palace grounds

The White Elephant Palace, within Royal Palace grounds

Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: WD540(45)

Item number: 54045

Length: 337

Width: 482

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour with pen and ink of the ceremonial pavilion in the Palace occupied by a rare and auspicious white elephant kept by the King 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 to Amarapura 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, with the aim of persuading King Mindon to sign a treaty formally acknowledging the extension of British rule over the province.

The mission started out from Rangoon (Yangon) and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River to the royal capital of Amarapura, founded in 1782. Grant (1813-1880) was sent as the official artist. 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 Yule’s ‘A Narrative of the mission sent by the Governor General of India to the Court of Ava in 1855’ published in 1858.

Grant wrote that: 'This building, the state room, as it may be termed, of the far famed 'Lord White Elephant' of Ava, is situated in the same grounds and on the same line with the Royal Palace...The sketch of the Royal animal himself here seen, was seized as he was re-entering the archway, after having been taken out for the purpose of being photographed by Captain Tripe; a concession which was made after some little difficulty and objections, and not until the whole of the golden umbrellas, eight in number, pertaining to his state, had been prepared and spread to protect him from possibility of danger by exposure to the sun!'

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