View of Red Fort - ROM2004_1040_5


View of Red Fort

Medium:Hand-painted with natural opaque watercolours on hand-made paper
Geography: Delhi or Lucknow, India
Date: circa 1800
Period: Reign of Bahadur Shah II, Mughal period
28.1 x 44.8 cm
Object number: 924.12.143
Not on view
DescriptionThis painting is a copy of an original painted ca. 1790 in Lucknow for Antoine Polier and was to be included in a presentation album of Delhi and Lucknow drawings. Other copies of the same painting are in San Francisco and at the British Library, London. The painting shows an interesting overview of the Lal Qila, or Red Fort, in Delhi. Partly inspired by British topographical views, this 19th century watercolor presents an idealized view of the monument in one point perspective. The symmetrically organized open spaces of the palace complex are arranged following a strict hierarchy, with the most public spaces in the background and the most private enclosures in the foreground. For example, in the background there is a large open court with a central pool, where men and horses practice the game of polo. The next open space is the Hall of Public Audience (Diwan-I Am ) with some small figures including two red-coated Sepoy soldiers. Closest to the viewer is the sumptuous Rang Mahal, the private palace of the emperor with its own enclosed garden and four smaller courts. On a yellow terrace at the front right, we see the Emperor himself with an entourage of four attendants. Around the entire complex are the distinctive red sandstone walls that led to the naming of this monument. The Red Fort was built along the Jamuna River in the 1640's by the Emperor Shah Jahan, who was also responsible for the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. During his reign, Mughal architecture reached a peak of development and refinement, a beautiful synthesis between Indian and Persian characteristics particular to India. The viewpoint in this painting shows the whole complex as though from a bird's eye view, floating somewhere above the river. It is not a view that would have been observable to any human and thus a product of the artist's imagination that combine topographical views and traditional Indian miniature painting. Such paintings, often called "Company Style," were produced during the 18th and early 19th century for a new market of European patrons.
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