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Dalhousie Bay, and Island of Negrais

Dalhousie Bay, and Island of Negrais

Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: WD540(49)

Item number: 54049

Length: 337

Width: 485

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour with pen and ink of a view of Negrais Island 'A Series of Views in Burmah taken during Major Phayre’s Mission to the Court of Ava in 1855' by Colesworthy Grant and dated 20 August 1855. This album consists of 106 landscapes and portraits documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.1853-1878). The mission left Rangoon (Yangon) and travelled up the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River to the royal capital of Amarapura. Grant (1813-1880) was sent as official artist of the mission. In the mid 18th century, the East India Company erected a factory on Negrais Island and a treaty was obtained from King Alaungpaya of Bego and Ava ceding the island to the British in perpetuity.

Grant wrote that this view was taken: 'From the hill at Fytche Point. The site of the new settlement near Cape Negrais, named after the Governor General, the Marquis of Dalhousie. To this place it is intended to remove the existing Government establishment from Bassein. It is situated on the west coast of the broad entrance of the magnificent Bassein River, to the south of Long Island, and north-west of the Island of Negrais, which is seen on the left of the picture. The Bay, which is said to abound in sharks, is unfortunately so shallow as to allow of boats only approaching near to the shore. A good and well protected anchorage is anticipated between Negrais Island and the main-land at the southern extremity of the Bay, at which point it is proposed to erect a pier for the landing of cargo from the ships. From the beach the land gradually shelves for a considerable distance in, and then rises, in the form of an amphitheatre, into woody and picturesque hills, at present an almost impenetrable mass of dense jungle; the haunt, it is believed, of a great variety of wild beasts. Of this kind is the hill at Fytche Point (so called after the Commissioner of Bassein, Major Fytche) at the northern end of the Bay. It was from the summit of this hill, perched on the branch of a tree, as the only means of obtaining a view at all of the landscape beneath, that this sketch was taken; and to reach this elevation it was necessary literally to plough through the dense and wet jungle which appeared at first to forbid all entrance. Laboriously and patiently cutting with a knife, tearing with the hands, trampling, breaking with the feet, forcing through with the body, clambering, diving and crawling, were the only means by which the obstacles presented by the entangled, thorny and dark mass of underwood were at last overcome. It is impossible to imagine jungle vegetation more luxuriant and dense than in Pegue.'

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