Unfinished sketch of a banyan tree in the grounds of Maharaja Mitrajit Singh's house, Patna (Bihar). 2 May 1825
Artist: D'Oyly, Sir Charles (1781-1845)
Medium: Pen and ink on paper
Pen and ink drawing, by Sir Charles D'Oyly (1781-1845), of a banyan tree in the grounds of Maharaja Mitrajit Singh's house at Patna in Bihar, dated 2nd May 1825, from an Album of 80 drawings of views in Bengal and Bihar taken between January 1823 and May 1825. This image is one of a group of miscellaneous sketches which were made either at Patna, D'Oyly's headquarters, or at near-by Hajipur in March and October 1824 and May 1825.
Banyan trees are sacred to the Hindus and as it is forbidden to cut its trunk or branches it can grow to an immense size and often provides shelter for men and animals from India's intense heat. The tree symbolses fertility and sends out aerial roots which may embed themselves in the ground and in turn become new trunks thus continually increasing the tree's size. D'Oyly arrived in India in 1797 and spent his first few years in Calcutta as Assistant to the Registrar of the Court of Appeal. He was Collector of Dacca from 1808-18 and was made Opium Agent at Patna in 1821. Whilst at Dacca he met the artist George Chinnery and became his pupil from 1808-12. D'Oyly was a prolific amateur artist who was greatly admired by the European community. He set up and ran a lithographic press, the 'Behar Lithography', and also formed an amateur art society the 'United Patna and Gaya Society' or 'Behar School of Athens': 'for the promotion of Arts and Sciences and for the circulation of fun and merriment of all descriptions.'