FRASER, James Baillie (1783-1856)
Temple of Mangnee
London: Rodwell & Martin, 1 March 1820. Hand-coloured aquatint by Robert Havell & Son, after Fraser. Sheet size: 20 1/2 x 26 1/2 inches.
A fine example of a view taken during the first recorded journey by Europeans through the Himalayas.
In 1815, following the end of the war with Nepal, Fraser and his brother William, a political agent, spent two months on a tour of the Himalayas. Their journey took the brothers along the river valleys of the Himalayas, with occasional sorties to higher latitudes and as far as the sources of both the Jumna and Ganges rivers.
The Temple of Mangnee was found in Uttar Pradesh, India, one of many mountain temples that deeply impressed Fraser. Each temple housed a guardian deity who protected the nearby residents. This temple was dedicated to the goddess Bhavani [a form of Shakti]. Fraser in his Journal of a Tour to the Himala Mountains wrote of the structure: "the whole of the interior is sculpted over in wood, with infinite labour...the whole roof, which is of fir wood, is richly cut into flowers and ornaments...with a sharpness and precision, yet an ease that does honour to the mountain artist. The whole setting is most beautiful."
This view is from the spectacular Views in the Himala Mountains which contains twenty of Havell's masterly plates worked up from sketches made on the spot by Fraser. In style the plates are similar to, and very much a match for Henry Salt's and the Daniells' large scale views published 10 and 20 years earlier. This was a deliberate strategy by the publishers who drew attention to the similarities in their advertisements which describe the work as being `In Elephant Folio, uniform with Daniell's Oriental Scenery , and Salt's Views in Abyssinia ..'
Cf. Abbey Travel II, 498.