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Artists’ impression of India

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Precious collection: One of the images, ‘Sonawalla’.
Precious collection: One of the images, ‘Sonawalla’.

Manisha Jha

On display are 3,000 rare 19th Century lithographs

NEW DELHI: On the occasion of the 60th year of India’s independence, People for Animals is organising a three-day display-cum-sale of 3,000 images in engravings and lithographs at Hotel Intercontinental The Grand here beginning August 10.

The collection provides a unique historic overview of the common cultural heritage forged by two centuries of interaction between India and Britain. This visual record encompassing views from the North to the South is a treasure trove of images that bring alive an era that did not have the benefit of photography. This collection includes many rare sets of 19th Century lithographs and an almost complete series on Calcutta since many of the British artists settled and worked in the then capital of British India. Each of the prints in the collection is authenticated as being over 100 years old, making them extremely precious collectibles because of their antique value and rarity of material.

Assembled in black and white and full colour reproductions, these engravings and lithographs have been created by the best known European artists who made sketches of India in the late 18th and 19th Centuries. Many of these artists were already well-known lithographers when they were brought to India by the British East India Company. In addition, these artists were soldiers of the British army who, taking advantage of touring India, drew their own impressions.

From garden parties to the much talked about sepoy mutiny and Afghan wars, from princes in their regalia to the common man on the street, the British artists vividly detailed various facets of local life including social customs and institutions, religious practices and beliefs, trade and commerce, government and administration -- all of which are reflected in the upcoming collection.

The works also reflect the variety of printing techniques in use then such as wood and steel engraving, aqua-tint and mezzo-tint, etching, and lithography.

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