A Bittern (bottaurus stellaris) standing on a river bank Lucknow, circa 1775-85(2)
Lot 231
A Bittern (bottaurus stellaris) standing on a river bank
Lucknow, circa 1775-85
(2)
Sold for £ 12,500 (US$ 16,447) inc. premium

Lot Details
A Bittern (bottaurus stellaris) standing on a river bank
Lucknow, circa 1775-85
pen and ink and watercolour, heightened with bodycolour and gum Arabic on watermarked paper (mark indistinct), inscribed in Urdu 547 chamar bugli (the bittern) in lower margin, and ardea in pencil at upper left; and a copy of the Hobhouse catalogue with receipt
460 x 277 mm.(2)

Footnotes

  • Provenance:
    Claude Martin (1735-1800), at Lucknow.
    Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool, and his family by descent.
    Niall Hobhouse.
    Private UK collection.

    Published:
    Niall Hobhouse, The Lucknow Menagerie: Natural History Drawings from the Collection of Claude Martin (1735-1800), Walpole Gallery, Dover Street, London, May 2001, no. 1.

    Claude Martin originally enlisted in the French Compagnie des Indes Orientales but, pessimistic about French prospects in India, deserted to the East India Company, and after serving in various positions in the Company's army, became Superintendent of the Lucknow Arsenal. In 1799 he entered the employment of the Nawab of Oudh, Asaf-ud-Daula. This employment, as well as money-lending and trading in indigo, made him rich, and he was a prominent collector and patron of local artists. He possessed a library of four thousand books. Amongst his wide range of interests were plants and animals, and it seems likely that the artists working for him would have found their subjects amongst the Nawab's aviary, which contained 'an uncommon number of birds' and which had thirty-five keepers.

    The numbering on this painting, and the others in the Hobhouse catalogue, implies that they were amongst the vast number of drawings of birds, plants and reptiles commissioned by Martin (658 of birds), and comparison can be made with Sir Elijah and Lady Impey's paintings of flora and fauna, as well as those of Dr Francis Buchanon and the Marquis Wellesley. The landscape background seen here, with its low viewpoint and oddly small bushes, reflects the influence of the artist Mihr Chand and the introduction of his style into Lucknow painting in the 1760s.
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