Painting of the Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri, by William Simpson, watercolour on paper, India, 1862
The Buland Darwaza (main gateway) of the Jami Masjid stands fifty-two metres high. The masjid, the principle building at Fatehpur Sikri was constructed by the Mughal emperor Akbar and completed between 1571 and 1572. Simpson's view is unusual in that he depicts the gateway from the side in order to include the pretty water-tank in the foreground.
William Simpson (1823 - 1899) was commissioned to go to India by his employers, Day and Sons, the London lithography firm. Having established his reputation by documenting the Crimean war in 1854, he was instructed to sketch well-known sites in and around Delhi associated with the heavy fighting of 1857.
Simpson arrived in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1859 and travelled widely. His rapid pencil drawings formed the preparatory studies for his finished watercolours which were done after his return to London in 1862. His fond memories of India, as noted in his journal, resulted in these highly coloured, evocative and romantic interpretations of the Indian landscape.
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