Description: The Chausath Khamba, Nizamuddin, Delhi. inscribed 'MAUSOLEUM OF A MAHOMMEDAN POET AT DELHI. EAST INDIES' (in the margin, overmounted) pencil, pen and grey ink and watercolour, fragmentary watermark, within the artist's black-lined border (overmounted) 19 x 25 5/8 in. (40.3 x 65.3 cm.)
Artist or Maker: William Daniell, R.A. (1769-1837)
Exhibited: London, Royal Academy, 1797, no. 562.
Literature: Abbey, Travel, 420, no. 82.
Provenance: with Spink, London.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 17 June 1998, lot 50.
Notes: T. and W. Daniell, aquatint engraving, 1 December 1801, Oriental Scenery, vol. III. no. 6.
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Built in 1623, 'of white marble, finely polished and finished with the utmost delicacy' this pavilion contained lattice work which excited the Daniells' particular admiration (Oriental Scenery). The lattice work is in a Gujarati style, but otherwise the pavilion is typical of the imperial architecture of Jahangir. A building of 64 columns (and hence its name), it was perhaps originally a hall, or resting place: only later was it converted into a burial site. The Daniells mistakenly thought it was the mausoleum of Amir Khusro, and it is thus entitled in the aquatint version (Oriental Scenery, vol. III, no. 6, published 1 December 1801). A 14th Century poet, Amir Khusro is in fact buried in the compound of the Dargah of the saint Shaikh Nizamu'd-Din Auliya, whose disciple he was. The compound is near the Chaunsath Khamba, in the district of Delhi still known as Nizamuddin.
After their return to London in 1794, Thomas Daniell worked hard to further his nephew's career and encouraged him both to join the Academy schools and to submit watercolours for annual exhibitions. William submitted a series of such watercolours for the next five years, some of them copies of his uncle's drawings, as in this case, others worked up from either his or his uncle's preliminary sketches. The present drawing of 1797 has changed the proportions of the earlier worked up version of this subject (India Observed, The P. & O. Collection of Watercolours of India by Thomas Daniell, R.A. and William Daniell, R.A., Christie's, London, 24 September 1996, lot 54) but still further changes were made on the plate for the final aquatint (Oriental Scenery, vol. III, no. 6). For further analysis of the relationships between the Daniells' drawings and the aquatints, see the forthcoming study by J.P. Losty, A Picturesque Voyage? William Daniell's Journal and the Daniells' Vision of India, to be published by the British Library in 2006.
According to William's journal, the Daniells visited the site on 16 February 1789, their first day in Delhi but did not draw it until their last day, 5 March: 'Set of [sic] immediately to Humaion's tomb where we made a few Sketches. From thence to the Bowley built by Nizaumudin Oulia ab t. 500 Years ago which I made a drawing of. Un made a View of the Tomb & Mosque of Niz Aumudin Oulea, also a D. of the Chausaut Kumba built in the reign of Humaion.' Clearly William knew what they were drawing but their notes appear to have become muddled later about these buildings.
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