India and Burma drawn and described by an English army officer in 67 sketches

[India & Burma - Sketchbook]. Blackwell, Thomas Eden. "Indian, Burmese and Swiss Sketches" A sketchbook containing numerous sketches of India, Burma and Switzerland, with an emphasis on their cultures.

[Various places, ca. 1826-1830].

Oblong 4to. [70] gray, white and blue album ff., containing 67 sketches with accompanying manuscript captions and descriptions. 66 sketches in pen & ink and pencil, mostly signed by Blackwell, depicting Swiss, Burmese and Indian panoramas and domestic scenes, buildings, events, animals and inhabitants, mounted and bound in, most accompanied by manuscript captions and descriptions by Blackwell and sometimes by a later hand. There is also 1 print (ca. 1795/1800?) showing a "rhahan" (priest) drawn by Singey Bey and engraved by Thomas Medland. Half black morocco, black decorated paper sides, gold-tooled ornaments on spine.


Sketchbook by the English lieutenant Thomas Eden Blackwell (1803?-45), showing views of India, Burma, and Switzerland, made in the years 1826-30, when India, which is the subject of about 30 of the sketches, and parts of Burma (now Myanmar) were British colonies. The sketches, mostly signed and dated by Blackwell, are mounted on album leaves and accompanied by manuscript captions and descriptions, also by Blackwell and sometimes by a later hand. Some of these remarks are general or contain interesting facts, while others are very personal or describe an event that happened during Blackwell's time as officer.

Blackwell drew some panoramic views and buildings (for example an Indian mosque or a narrow street in Calcutta), but he pays particular attention to Indian culture in his sketches of India and the accompanying explanations. He sketches the Indian population, animals, and scenes representing the everyday life of Indian people. Several animal sketches are exceptionally beautiful, including that of a horse (with notes about Arabian horses). He also draws a camel, compares camels to dromedaries, and outlines the habitat of both species in India. Also included are many sketches of Indian cattle, such as bullocks, which were used as water-carriers, and Bengal cows (whose milk is said to be "inferior" to that of English cows).

Blackwell also drew the inhabitants of the Indian places he visited, including a priest ("rhahan") and an Indian watchman ("chokedar"), but also a "Musselman" and an Indian woman, with remarks concerning the attitude of Indian men towards women. Of particular interest are the Indian "sceneries", as Blackwell calls them, showing the everyday life of Indian people: native cooking, but also how Indian people bathe in Hooghly river, how they wash their clothes, and men smoking a so-called "hubble bubble" (a hookah or water pipe). Blackwell annotatioins to nearly all these sketches provide the reader with rare insights into Indian culture.

of Burma (now Myanmar) fewer sketches were made, and they focus mostly on the coasts and the city of Rangoon's wharfs. These include the royal wharf at Rangoon, with a whole page of explanatory text on the facing page, and a sketch showing a stockade in Burma, where, according to Blackwell's caption, the British killed the Burman general Maha Bundoola (1782-1825) in the First Anglo-Burmese War. Yet there is also a sketch of the so-called Great Bell in Rangoon, which is representative of Burmese bells, which are often located near celestial buildings. The album also includes two views of Tobago in the West Indies: a large two-page panoramic view and a sketch of the government house in Tobago with a garrison in the background; Blackwell's note states that his daughter Eliza was born there on 25 January 1833.

Another part of the sketchbook comprises sketches of Swiss landscapes and panoramas, especially of the region surrounding Basel (of which Blackwell also includes a two-page panoramic view).

With owner's inscription on the front pastedown: "Lieut. Blackwell 13th Light Infantry. Indian, Burmese and Swiss Sketches". Binding a little worn, one quire loose, some occasional spots and somewhat browned, but not affecting the drawings. In good condition.

Art.-Nr.: BN#52774 Schlagwörter: ,