Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Global Commodities

September 14, 2012

Asian objects at Kedleston hall, Derbyshire, collected by Lord Curzon (1859-1925) during his tenure as Viceroy of India. ©National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The University of Warwick is hosting an interesting conference entitled Global Commodities, which will take place between 12 and 14 December. The conference will examine the role of material culture in the development of global connections in the early modern world.

Gouache depicting Maharajah Pratap Singh of Tanjore, late 18th century, at Powis Castle, Powys. ©National Trust Images

The speakers are rather global as well, with participants from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK and the USA.

Indian red lacquer bridal chest, at Bateman’s, West Sussex. ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Three scholars who are involved directly or indirectly with the National Trust Chinese wallpaper project will be presenting papers – which partly explains my keen interest in this conference.

Detail of a padoukwood and ivory cabinet on stand, Vizagapatam, 18th century, at Kingston Lacy, Dorset. ©National Trust Images/Andreas von Einsiedel

Helen Clifford will be exploring concepts of home in 18th-century England, Kate Smith will be talking about East India Company households and Anna Wu will be explaining her Chinese wallpaper research. I am very much looking forward to hearing their talks and those of the other contributors.

The power of the imagination

February 2, 2011

Detail of the Zuber wallpaper at Basildon Park. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The small camel seen through the fretwork at 575 Wandsworth Road, shown in the previous post, inspired Courtney Barnes to do a post about camel motifs.

I want to return the compliment by showing the panoramic Zuber wallpaper at Basildon Park. But apart from featuring a camel it is also emblematic of Regency exoticism.

The Qudsiya Bagh on the river Jumna, Delhi. Aquatint after Thomas Daniell (1749-1840), 1795, at Basildon Park. ©NTPL/John Hammond

Zuber wallpapers began to be produced in 1797. This particular design, called L’Hindoustan, was created by Pierre Mongin in 1807.

©NTPL/John Hammond

Mongin had never been to India, and his idealised, dreamy scenes were based on the Indian views of Thomas and William Daniell.

Eastern gate of the Jama Masjid, Delhi. Aquatint after Thomas Daniell (1749-1840), 1795, at Basildon Park. ©NTPL/John Hammond

The Daniells had seen these views at first hand, but their images are still heavily influenced by the English picturesque and Romantic traditions, with lots of dramatic clouds, crumbling masonry, and artfully placed trees and figures.

©NTPL/John Hammond

The Zuber wallpaper and the Daniell views were installed at Basildon by Lord and Lady Iliffe after the Second World War. In their restoration and decoration of the empty and derelict house the Iliffes were trying to evoke the spirit of Sir Francis Sykes, a ‘nabob’ who had made his fortune in India and who began building Basildon in 1776.

Gate of the mausoleum of Akbar near Agra. Aquatint after Thomas Daniell (1749-1840), 1795, at Basildon Park. ©NTPL/John Hammond

So here we have three different imaginations at work – Mongin, the Daniells and the Iliffes – recreating the exotic on the banks of the Thames.


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