Bas relief of the 'Descent of the Ganges', Mamallapuram. Squared drawing for the aquatint published 15 October 1799
Artist: Daniell, Thomas (1749-1840)
Medium: Pencil on paper
Pencil drawing of the relief of the 'Descent of the Ganges' at Mamallapuram, by Thomas and William Daniell dated November 1792.
Thomas Daniell (1749-1840) and his nephew William (1769-1837) travelled throughout India from 1786 to 1794 drawing and painting the landscape views and monuments they witnessed along the way. The Daniells are renowned for a collection of aquatints of views of India in six parts called 'Oriental Scenery' that was published between 1795 and 1810. This is the original drawing for 'Oriental Scenery,' part 5, plate 2. Mamallapuram, a tiny village south of Chennai (Madras), was a flourishing port of the Pallava dynasty from the 5th - 8th centuries. The site is famous for a group of temples, a series of rock-cut caves and monolithic sculptures that were most likely created in the 7th century reign of Narasimhavarman Mahamalla. The caves are all fronted with fine columns resting on seated lions, typical of the Pallava style. The artists wrote, "This rock ... is of coarse granite; the excavation consists of one large apartment, of an oblong form, leaving a small temple attached to that side opposite the entrance. The roof is supported on the sides and front by a double range of columns, all curiously, and not inelegantly, formed of the natural rock. Those on the outside are composed of a lion sitting on a double plinth, forming the lower part of the shaft, which rising octagonally, and tapering, terminates in a capital consisting of three men on horseback supporting the cornice, above which are small ornamental temples in basso-relievo....Mauveleporam, or Mahabalipore, is considered...[to be] the remains of a city of vast magnificence, and of the highest antiquity; and supposed to have been founded by the great Bali, whose name it bears."