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The Banks of the Irrawaddy - Below Pagân and near the frontier

The Banks of the Irrawaddy - Below Pagân and near the frontier

Artist: Grant, Colesworthy (1813-1880)

Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink

Date: 1855

Shelfmark: WD540(70)

Item number: 54070

Length: 312

Width: 230

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour with pen and ink of the Banks of the Irrawaddy south of Pagan and near the frontier 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 is made up of 106 landscapes and portraits of Burmese and Europeans documenting the British embassy to the Burmese King, Mindon Min (r.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. Grant sketched the coastal scenery he passed on the journey and made topographical and architectural studies of Amarapura, Pagan, and other places of interest visited by the mission.

These drawings were described by the artist as follows: 'Of these four hasty sketches the upper two, representing the shore nearly opposite to Pagan, serve to shew the desolate, wild, and barren character of the country in that neighbourhood, in contrast with the green-clad hills and fertile aspect of the land as it approaches the richer and moister soil of the southern and British Provinces. The two lower sketches belong to the shore between Meaday and the Frontier.'

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