The Festival of India

A short editorial by Michael Trend.

This month’s cover is a hand-coloured aquatint, a view of Benares from the river, from A Picturesque Tour along the River Ganges and Jumna in India by Colonel Charles Forrest, published in 1824. It sets the scene for the articles on the history and culture of India which History Today is including in this and subsequent issues of the magazine to co-incide with the Festival of India which is taking place throughout the spring and summer.

Forrest’s aquatint is one of the 200 or so exhibits of oil paintings, water colours, drawings and prints from the exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, from April 26th until July 4th, India Observed . The theme of the exhibition is the landscape, scenery and people of India as seen by British artists between 1760 and 1860. The exhibition shows the vision of India as it was painted by professional artists such as Thomas and William Daniell and William Hodges and also a number of amateur painters over whom India threw its spell. These works of art, often bound into books, presented the British with a an image of India at a time when landscape painting was at its finest and many of the most beautiful of the works are a magnificent new dimension of the art of the English landscape painting transferred to India.  

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