Posted on: 13 July 2016

A street in Bombay - 1867

This chromolithograph is taken from plate 4 of William Simpson's 'India: Ancient and Modern'. The artist depicts the teeming street of the bustling city of Bombay (Mumbai), a hub of India trade. A distinct feature of the architecture was the elaborate red-and-green coloured carving on wooden pillars and beams of houses. The man in a white turban reading a book is a Parsi priest. Simpson wrote: "the high turban of a Parsi is sure to greet you everywhere". The Parsis were adherents of the Zoroastrian religion and mostly concentrated in Bombay. Their ancestors had fled Muslim persecution in eighth-century Iran in the eighth century. At the time of this image they began to adopt items of western dress along with their native clothing.

Text and image credit:
Copyright © The British Library Board

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Incredible India...


Thank you

Simpson's each work is incredible👍

100 years later, 1967 everything's the same except ...add an Ambassador, a scooter, electric wires overhead and a hippie or two

Incredible ♀♀

Nidhi Shah

To me, as far as the description goes, it's unjust to avoid mentioning that the house with carvings and wide staircase, more than likely belongs to a Brahmin family. Check out the tonsured young boy with piggy-tail, offering water to that lady on the steps- possibly a passer by. And also a typical Marathi couple with the man sporting a Pagdi- the red headgear, and his wife wearing a 9-yard saree.

Naro Ttam

what a beauty life

Was just gonna write along those!

Perfect observation .... Kaustubh!! That high turban Parsi could be passer by also !!


Jaynish Shah

very nice

very beautiful

" Piggy tail " ? seems to me a sarcastic adjective.

Seems like old pathways of Bhavnager ( Gujrat) ... Amazing post thanks for sharing it with us :)

Wonderful thanks.

Vinod Razdan What sarcasm??😳🙄! Pigtail is the closest english word for 'Shikha'.


Very interesting

Oindrila Sikdar

Kaustubh I agree with you Minute Observation in Toto.

Such Woden Houses are ound in Brahaman Wadas Of Nashik, Which had/has Sizeable Brahamin Population, by virtue of being important Pilgrimage center.

Alex Červený veja que extraordinario. Sanjay Mewada look at this.


Such detail....lovely!

A wonderful piece of History so colourful something to treasure

Paulo, Thank you for sharing. William Simpson was a remarkable man. A combination of Norman Rockwell, Edward R Murrow, Paul Theroux, and John Singer Sargent, because neither photography, nor photo journalism, nor war correspondents, or travel writers existed in middle 1800s. He was an illustrator, artist, war correspondent and completely fearless; venturing into wars and battles in Europe, Crimea, and just about everywhere East India Company operated, to capture the sights and sent his dispatches as paintings. He traveled extensively in India, sent there to capture India's first war of Independence (1857). As part of his assignment he traveled to Bombay as well. The tragedy of the painting you posted above is that it is only one of the 50 or so remaining out of the 250 he painted on that trip to India. Only 50 remain because they were converted into lithographs, while others sold off as his financier for the India trip went bankrupt. This painting is unique in many aspects. There are not that many watercolors of Bombay in mid 19th century of this quality and vintage. Occasionally a few of his works come up for sale but almost never of the work he did depicting Bombay. I would buy one in a heartbeat if I ever saw one listed :-)

Looks like Girgaum..Totally marashtrian dominated .Nonetheless a beautiful work

Bazaargate Street?