Time travel in Mumbai

Published: 11 December, 2012 10:03 IST | The Guide Team |

Art curator Dilnavaz Mehta takes us through the Mumbai, Bombay of then, under East India Company in her new show Rare Finds, which is a collection of rare maps, paintings, engravings and books. We invited Mehta to select four fascinating finds from this exhibition

Magni Mogolis Imperium, 1638
Map by J Jansson
A beautiful and attractive map it shows Northern India with the imperial Mughal empire and trade routes. Areas are marked to show where different types of animals are found. The Dutch cartographer, J Jansson lived and worked in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. He published these atlases in 1630 in partnership with his brother-in-law Henry Hondius. There is excellent detailing seen in the exceptionally well maintained map.

Bombay on the Malabar Coast belonging to the East India Company of England, 1754
Vues d’optiqe, Drawn by Jan Van Ryne
It is a significant work as vues d’optique (perspective views), a special type of prints, which were published during the eighteenth century, are being exhibited for the first time in Mumbai. One can see the British Fort with the apartments, the St Thomas Cathedral, Customs House, and the town of Bombay from the harbour. The Portico of an excavated Temple on the Island of Salsette, coloured aquatint from the series Oriental Scenery, 1799 Drawn by Thomas Daniell, engraved by Thomas and William Daniell  An exceptional view of the Kanheri (Kennery Caves) from a very early period, the picturesque view is titled so attractively with words such as Salsette (which are no longer used). 

Scene in Bombay, reprinted in 1892
Chromolithograph, drawn by Captain RM Grindlay and engraved by RG Reeve
This view of Bombay as seen in 1811 embodies the spirit of old Bombay, which was built on cotton trade. The residents of Bombay involved with the cotton trade, the first area in which cotton trade was conducted, the way in which it was conducted along with the setting showing the St Thomas’ Cathedral, all make the picture fascinating. Captain RM Grindlay, 7th Bombay Native Infantry, has drawn it, rather artistically. He went on to found the Grindlays Bank without sacrificing any of the relevant authentic details. 

What are vues d’optiques?
A special type of print published during the Eighteenth century, though these could be viewed on their own as a print would be, when viewed through devices such as the optical machine, optiques or zograscope, the view would be seen as a panorama or in perspective with enhanced magnification and three-dimensional depth.

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