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The Bala Hissar and city of Kabul (Afghanistan) from the Citadel

The Bala Hissar and city of Kabul (Afghanistan) from the Citadel

Artist: Atkinson, James (1780-1852)

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1839

Shelfmark: WD2404

Item number: 2404

Length: 25

Width: 36.6

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Painting

Water-colour sketch of the Bala Hissar and city of Kabul (Afghanistan) by James Atkinson (1780-1852) between 1839 and 1840. Inscribed on the mount of this picture is: 'The Bala Hissar and City of Caubul, from the Citadel.' Atkinson served with the Bengal Medical Service and from 1838 to 1841 was in Kabul with the Army of the Indus as Superintending Surgeon. This is one of 16 water-colours depicting the march of the Army of the Indus from Sind to Kabul in Afghanistan via Quetta and Kandahar. These drawings are part of the original set of 24 water-colours, from which lithographs were made by L. and C. Haghe for J. Atkinson, entitled 'Sketches in Afghaunistan' (London, 1842).

Kabul was an important trading centre with routes leading west to Kandahar and Iran, north to Samarkand and Central Asia, and east to India. The city was of strategic importance during the Afghan-British Wars of the 19th century. Atkinson wrote of this scene: ‘The roofs of the houses are flat, and but ill-suited to a climate in which so much snow falls. It was from Balla Hissar, the British troops were recalled to the cantonment, dispirited and illy clad, and suffering most acutely under the deprivation of food, which scanty allowance they could only obtain by bribery and plunder during the night.’

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