Bhawani Das, A Gangetic whiting Enlarge 1 /1

Bhawani Das

Patna, Bihar, India

A Gangetic whiting c. 1780 Description: Drawing
Place made: Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India
Materials & Technique: drawings, pencil and watercolour on paper Support: paper

Dimensions: 23.7 h x 38.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2012
Accession No: NGA 2012.821
  • commissioned from the artist Bhawani Das in Kolkata (Calcutta), West Bengal, India, by Sir Elijah and Lady Mary Impey, between 1780 and 1782
  • likely exported from India to England in 1783
  • retained in the Impey collection at Newick Park, East Sussex, until Sir Elijah’s death, 1809
  • offered at auction by Lady Impey at the firm of Mr Harry Phillips of New Bond Street, London, 10 May 1810
  • at which it was either bought by G. Dowson or passed in
  • with art dealership Colnaghi Oriental, London, 1980s
  • which sold it to a private collector, 1980s
  • who sold it by auction at Gorringe’s, Lewes, East Sussex, 8 September 2011
  • to Simon Ray of art dealership Simon Ray Indian and Islamic Works of Art, London
  • who sold it to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2012

Among the earliest natural history pictures produced in India, this is the first known illustration of a Gangetic whiting. Bhawani Das was one of three artists engaged by Lady Mary Impey between 1777 and 1782 to illustrate Indian flora and fauna. On arrival from England, Impey was fascinated by the wildlife of India and created a menagerie in Kolkata (Calcutta). She commissioned over 300 illustrations which are believed to have inspired some of the great British natural history images of the 19th century.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label