DANIELL, Thomas (1749-1840)
The Taje Mahel, at Agra
London: Robert Bowyer for Thomas Daniell, July 1796. Colour printed aquatint with hand-finishing by Thomas Daniell, on wove paper. Image size (including text): 17 x 23 3/8 inches. Sheet size: 20 3/16 x 26 1/4 inches.
A panoramic view that includes the often overlooked and fascinating gateway and the Taj Mahal in the distance
Thomas remarked, "The Taje Mahel has always been considered as the first example of Mahomedan architecture in India, and consequently, being a spectacle of the highest celebrity, is visited by persons of all rank, and from all parts. This high admiration is however not confined to the partial eye of the native Indian; it is beheld with no less wonder and delight by those who have seen the productions of art in various parts of the globe."
William's Journal records, 20 January 1789, "...The Tents were pitched immediately opposite the Tage Mahl. Un & self drawing from it most of the Day. The artist were very impressed by the view of the monument across the river Jumna.
The Taj Mahal was erected by the Mughal Emperor, Shah Jahan, as a mausoleum for his beloved wife, known as Mumtaz Mahal, who died in 1629.
Thomas Daniell and his nephew William spent nine years in India making studies, sketches and drawings of the scenery, architecture and antiquities of that country and then devoted a further thirteen years to publishing their remarkably accurate aquatints. In Britain, the impact was explosive. A cult of Indian architecture, landscaping and interior decoration arose, with the Royal Pavilion at Brighton as its centerpiece. The Daniells gave the people of Britain their first accurate look at the exotic sub-continent. Their great achievement here lies in satisfying the European craving for the picturesque while remaining responsible and accurate to their subjects.
The work was issued in seven stages: three sets of twenty-four plates titled Oriental Scenery with title dates of 1795, 1797, and 1801; twelve plates titles Antiquities of India with title date 1799; twenty-four plates titled Hindoo Excavations with title date 1803; twenty-four plates titled Views in Hindoostan with title date 1807; and twelve further plates of Antiquities of India published without a title page in 1808. All plates were engraved by the Daniells and all are taken from their drawings save the twenty-four plates of Hindoo Excavations, which are after drawings by James Wales.
Abbey Travel II.420 no.19; Archer I, pl.18; Martinelli/Michell, India Yesterday and Today - 52 Agra, gate to the Taj Mahal; cf. Lowndes I, p.588; ; cf. RIBA 799-804; cf. Sutton The Daniells (1954) p.156; cf. Tooley 172.