Thomas Daniell (1749–1840)
The Sacred Tree of the Hindoos at Gyah, Bahar, March 1790
Watercolor, over graphite
Inscribed below lower left margin in black ink, The ACHE BHUR a sacred tree of the HINDOOS at GYA, BAHAR
17 5/16 x 23 11/16 inches (440 x 601 mm)
Purchase, The Morgan Library & Museum; 1974.73
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Daniell traveled in India with his nephew William (1769–1837) between 1785 and 1794, recording picturesque landscape and architectural views for eventual publication.
This drawing is a study for aquatint no. 15 in part I of William and Thomas Daniell's Oriental Scenery, published in London between 1795 and 1797 (subsequent parts, 6 volumes in all, with 144 color plates, were published until 1808). It was originated during the Daniells' three-year trek through northern India (1788–91) and records a view in the Hindu holy city of Gyah in the Bahar region, which the Daniells visited just five months before their return to Calcutta. Here they recorded Gyah's most sacred site, the immortal banyan tree that Hindus believe to be connected to an even more sacred tree growing in an ancient underground temple some two hundred miles away.
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