"Emily Eden (1797-1869): A Journey through India in Words and Colors"

Emily Eden (1797-1869), the seventh daughter of William Eden, 1st Baron Auckland, was a novelist, gifted artist and traveller. She journeyed to India in 1836 with her sister Fanny to join their brother George, Lord Auckland, who was Governor-General between 1835 and 1842, and proceeded to write entertaining accounts of her time there. These were full of local colour and included descriptions of ceremonies and social functions, witty observations and, on occasion, she gave perceptive insights into significant political events. After a stay in Calcutta, Emily and her two siblings toured through Oudh and the Upper Provinces between October 1837 and February 1840, when she recorded their experiences in letters and sketched the people and places they visited.

On her return to England in 1842, Emily worked up a number of the sketches, which she then had printed privately and published in four parts in the 'Portraits'. Most copies were issued in monochrome, but a few were enhanced by exquisite hand-colouring, of which the work offered here is one. The collection of twenty-four lithographs includes not only celebrated princely figures, such as the Maharaja Ranjit Singh, whom she met in 1838, and the King of the Punjab, Maharaja Sher Singh, but also members of their families, servants at Government House and various religious figures. On her meeting with Ranjit Singh, she presented him with her sketch of a portrait of Queen Victoria, with whom she corresponded, in her coronation robes.

The superb quality of the plates and the freshness of the hand-colouring capture the magnificence of the artist's subjects and their entourage, and the images include caparisoned elephants, horses from the Mararajas’ stables, hawks and even hunting leopards, a gift to Lord Auckland from the King of Oudh.