FRASER, James Baillie (1783-1856)
Gungotree The Holy Shrine of Mahadeo
[XI] London: Rodwell & Martin, 1820. Hand-coloured aquatint by Robert Havell & Son, after Fraser. Several skillful marginal repairs, not affecting the image. Sheet size: 20 1/2 x 28 inches.
A fine example of a view taken during the first recorded journey by Europeans through the Himalayas.
Fraser wrote of this place, said to the source of the Ganges, "We were now in the centre of the stupendous Himalas, the loftiest and perhaps the most rugged range of mountains in the world. We were at the source of that noble river, equally an object of veneration and a source of fertility, plenty and opulence to Hindustan; and we had now reached the holiest shrine of Hindoo worship which these holy hills contain."
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.
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 Daniell brothers' 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.