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The Taj from the fort. 'April 1878'

The Taj from the fort.  'April 1878'

Artist: North, Marianne (1830-1890)

Medium: Oil on paper

Date: 1878

Shelfmark: WD3220

Item number: 3220

Length: 34.2

Width: 47.1

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Painting

Oil painting on paper of the Taj Mahal from the fort at Agra, by Marianne North (1830-1890) dated April 1878. The Taj Mahal was built on the banks of the river Jumna at Agra by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan for his wife Mumtaz Mahal following her death in 1632. The tomb itself is constructed of brick and faced in white marble. Its surfaces are inlaid with gemstones and coloured marbles in calligraphic, geometric and floral designs. Shah Jahan himself was later buried in the tomb next to his wife. The mausoleum sits at the northern end of a formal garden arranged according to a 'chahar bagh' or four-part garden layout of Persian origin. It is flanked on one side by a mosque and to the other by its 'jawab' or echo, thought to have provided a resting house for visitors to the tomb. Both buildings are faced in red sandstone with three white marble onion domes apiece. At the southern end of the garden is a monumental gateway also of red sandstone. Calligraphy around its central arched opening encourages the visitor to continue into the gardens within by asking them to 'Enter Thou my Paradise'. Marianne North visited India in 1877-79 and completed over 200 paintings whilst there. She wrote in Volume I of her Recollections of a Happy Life, (1892), "I started at night again for Agra, which I reached on the morning of the 14th of March...I went that same afternoon to the Taj, and found it bigger and grander even than I had imagined; its marble so pure and polished that no amount of dust could defile it; the building is so cleverly raised on its high terrace, half-hidden by gardens on one side, and washed on the other by the great river Jumna...The interior is most elaborately inlaid with jasper, serpentine, amethyst, and other half-precious stones...The old palace-rooms in the Fort were even more lovely in their way; and I used to go there every afternoon, and to the Taj in the morning. Some of the balconies hanging over the old walls of the fortress seemed too fine for human beings to live in. I feared to break them with my weight as I wandered about them, with their windows of marble lace-work, all so pure."

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