The Caubul Cantonments from the Bridge, near the fort of Mahmood Khan Byab (?)
Artist: Atkinson, James (17780-1852)
Medium: Watercolour with pen and ink
This is a pen-and-ink and water-colour drawing of military cantonments near Kabul in Afghanistan by James Atkinson (1780-1852) dated 1840. Inscribed on the front is: 'The Caubul Cantonments from the Bridge, near the fort of Mahmood Khan Byab (?)'. The drawing is folio 19 from an album of views in Afghanistan from the Kyber Pass to Kabul by Atkinson. During the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42) Atkinson served as Superintending Surgeon to the Army of the Indus, a combined force of British and Indian troops. A talented amateur artist, he took the opportunity to complete many sketches en route that portrayed the mountain passes, rocky gorges and arid plains characteristic of the country.
Kabul is located in a strategically important position at the confluence of major lines of communication running north into Central Asia and south and west into the northern plains of India. In 1504 Kabul was captured by Babur, the founder of the Moghul Empire. The city was later transformed into a thriving cultural centre when Timur Shah made it his capital in 1772. In the 19th century, Kabul was the focus of British, Persian and Russian rivalry for the control of the Khyber Pass. It was twice occupied by British troops in 1839-42 and 1879-80.