A Portrait of the Hindus

A Portrait of the Hindus : Balthazar Solvyns and the European Image of India 1760-1824

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The Flemish artist Francois Balthazar Solvyns, who lived in Calcutta from 1791 to 1803, is little known, but his collection of etchings of the Hindus provide a rich and compelling portrait of India two hundred years ago. These remarkable prints, depicting the people of Bengal in their occupations, festivals, and daily life, and the accompanying descriptive text, are only available in rare book collections and have rarely been referred to by scholars of Indian culture and history. In Part I of this lavishly illustrated volume, Robert Hardgrave introduces Solvyn's life and work. Part II reproduces Solvyn's etchings and descriptions, with Hardgrave's detailed commentary. This book will make these invaluable images and writings generally available for the first time. It will be an important resource for those in South Asian studies and well as those interested in European artists in India and the European representation of the "other."
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Product details

  • Hardback | 568 pages
  • 238 x 312 x 40mm | 2,939.31g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • halftones and full colour illustrations throughout
  • 0195220412
  • 9780195220414

Review quote

... a superb scholarly edition ... a fascinating and definitive record of an artist's consuming desire to portray India realistically, rather than picturesquely. Times Higher Education Supplement This deeply researched and lavishly produced volume is a tribute to an artist who was more than an Orientalist. Unlike other European painters, Solvyns was not interested in romanticising India; he wanted to capture it warts and all. Hardgrave's ardent and meticulous scholarship has succeeded in restoring Solvyns' deserved reputation. Times Higher Education Supplement [Hardgrave] skilfully constructs a credible account of an eventful career. The text is complemented by an up-to-date catalogue of Solvyn's work, and a good bibliography, glossary and index. A Portrait of the Hindus will be an essential purchase for all university libraries with any coverage of South Asia and will be cherished by lovers of fine book production. Times Higher Education Supplement
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