ALLAN, Sir Alexander, Bt. (1764-1820)
... Views in the Mysore Country
[London: "published ... for Capt. Allen" 1 June 1794]. Oblong folio. (18 1/4 x 25 1/4 inches). Engraved title/dedication to Charles Marquis Cornwallis K.G., Governor General of Bengal, 12pp. descriptive letterpress text at end. 20 uncoloured aquatint plates by J. Wells after Allan, mounted on guards throughout, edges uncut.
Expertly bound to style in half eighteenth-century russia over contemporary marbled paper-covered boards, the flat spine in eight compartments divided by gilt fillets and roll tools, red morocco label in the second compartment, the other compartments with repeat decoration in gilt
A complete copy of one of the rarest of all India view books.
Allan served in the Madras Infantry from 1780 and took part in the third Mysore war. The present work resulted from images drawn by Allan at the conclusion of the campaign. As a military topographer, his overriding goal would have been to accurately portray what he saw: in the present beautiful and rare series he presents to a British public who were fascinated by the dealings surrounding Tipu Sultan. Allan went on to actively serve in the fourth Mysore War, as Deputy Quartermaster General. He spoke Persian fluently and was therefore appointed to carry the flag of truce into the Palace after the fall of Seringapatam and negotiate with Tipu. Subsequently, Allan was with Baird when Tipu's body was found. Allan resigned from the Army in 1804, and from 1814 was a Director of the East India Company.
The rarity of this work can be judged from the fact that only one other complete copy is listed as having sold at auction in the past thirty five years. The only other records are for two partial copies: one with plates but no text, and a second with only 12 plates.
Abbey Travel II, 418; Archer p.73; H. de Almeida & G.H. Gilpin Indian Renaissance pp.176-178; Prideaux p.326; P. Rohtagi and G. Parlett Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists p.79.