by DANIELL, Thomas (1749-1840) and William DANIELL (1769-1837)
London, 1808. 6 volumes, broadsheet. Mounted on guards throughout and interleaved with blanks [plates: 29 3/4 x 21 1/4 inches; interleaves: 30 7/8 x 22 5/8 inches]). 6 sepia aquatint title-pages and 144 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Thomas and William Daniell, after their own drawings and those of James Wales (5 plates joined to form two panoramas). Printed on thick J. Whatman watermarked paper throughout (plates watermarked 1809, interleaves watermarked 1808-1811). Expertly bound to style in half russia and period marbled paper covered boards. Housed in six dark blue morocco backed boxes. "The finest illustrated work ever published on India" (Tooley). The Daniells, uncle and nephew, spent nine years criss-crossing India, drawing and recording meticulously anything and everything of historical or architectural interest, and mindful always of the exotic and the picturesque. On their return to London in 1794 they set about producing what is now recognized as one of the finest, most ambitious, and most influential series of aquatints ever published. It made "a completely new contribution to British knowledge of India" (Archer, p.222). Some of their views offered accurate images of scenes which had been imperfectly recorded by earlier travelers, but there were also numerous sites where the Daniells were the first Europeans to make a visual record: these ranged from relatively inaccessible spots such as in the Garwhal mountains, to Madras where, surprisingly, their views are first to be made by Europeans on the spot. The Daniells' timing proved to be spot on: a generation of retired rich colonial administrators were reminded of the scenes of their youthful glory; likewise, European travelers who had visited the sub-continent; and their prints also satisfied the British public's desire to see and understand the scenes of the various victorious British military campaigns in India. Issued over the course of thirteen years from 1795 to 1808, the work depicts landscape views, architecture, and antiquities. the latter reflecting Thomas Daniell's increasing personal interest in antiquities. Scenes depicting antiquities appear to have been less popular with the buying public, and series three, devoted to antiquities, was interrupted after twelve plates to return to views. The final twelve plates of antiquities were the last issued, in 1808. Their classical style of composition and use of a camera obscura ensured unrivalled accuracy, and the images influence was felt in other spheres of the applied arts: scenes appeared on Staffordshire blue-and-white pottery and formed the basis for wallpapers produced by Zuber at Mulhouse or Dufour at Macon; the Daniells inspired architecture, either directly or indirectly (a folly at Melchet Park, and, most notably, the house and gardens of Sezincote in Gloucestershire), and their influence was also felt in furniture design. The importance of the work cannot be understated. Oriental Scenery introduced many of India's most famous buildings and sites to the European Public, it secured the Daniells's artistic reputation, and more than any other work of art produced at the turn of the nineteenth century, Oriental Scenery contributed the most to the dispersal of knowledge about Indian history, architecture and geography, while at the same time demonstrating that Indian subjects could be artistically reconciled with an essentially European aesthetic. In achieving all of the above, the work in its finished form would be without question the zenith of British aquatint color plate books and one of the most impressive books ever produced. Abbey Travel II.420; RIBA 799-804; Sutton The Daniells (1954) p.156; Tooley 172.
(Inventory #: 33180)
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