Lieutenant James Hunter – The Delhi Gate of Bangalore

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A fine watercolour with black ink and grey wash on laid paper. Painted c.1791-2. This watercolour has been professionally cleaned and mounted and is protected with a clear polyester cover. The subject was later etched then published: Picturesque scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore, plate 16 – The Delhi Gate of Bangalore, after James Hunter. Hand-coloured etching and aquatint made by Henri Merke: Published by Edward Orme, 1804-1805.

 

Description

Condition: Colours are fairly strong. The marks at the top left side of the painting are pigment stains and are almost certainly contemporary with the watercolour. The top left corner has been repaired along with two small tears; one at the lower middle edge and the other to the middle left edge of the sheet.

James Hunter was a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery who also served under Lord Cornwallis Governor-General of India in 1791–92. He travelled extensively and sketched several views in the Kingdom of Mysore during the famous Mysore war. Forty of his sketches were later reproduced using the technique of aquatint etching on copper plates. These were published under the title; “Picturesque scenery in the Kingdom of Mysore” by Edward Orne 59 New Bond Street, London 1804-1805.

Bangalore Fort began in 1537 as a mud fort. The builder was Kempe Gowda I, a vassal of the Vijaynagar Empire and the founder of Bangalore. Hyder Ali in 1761 replaced the mud fort with a stone fort and it was further improved by his son Tipu Sultan in the late 18th century. It was damaged during an Anglo-Mysore war in 1791. It still remains a good example of 18th-century military fortification. The army of the British East India Company, led by Lord Cornwallis on 21 March 1791 captured the fort in the siege of Bangalore during the Third Mysore War (1790–1792). At the time the fort was a stronghold for Tipu Sultan. Today, the fort’s Delhi gate, on Krishnarajendra Road, and two bastions are the primary remains of the fort. The Delhi Gate was ornate with decoration and was large enough to easily allow even elephants to traverse through it. A marble plaque commemorates the spot where the British breached fort’s wall, leading to its capture. The old fort area also includes Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace and his armoury. The fort has provided the setting for the treasure hunt in the book Riddle of the Seventh Stone.

Brand

Hunter, Lieutenant James (c.1755-1792)

James Hunter served as a lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in British India, serving under Marquess Cornwallis. Hunter worked as a military artist, and his sketches portray aspects of military and everyday life. Hunter took part in Tippu Sultan campaigns and other military campaigns in South India. His paintings provide a picture of late 18th-century life in South India. Hunter has sketched different landscapes of South India, including Bangalore, Mysore, Hosur, Kancheepuram, Madras, Arcot, Sriperumbadur, etc. These paintings were published as the third section of A Brief History of ancient and modern India embellished with coloured engravings published by Edward Orme (London) between 1802 and 05, as Picturesque Views in the Kingdom of Mysore published in 1804. In 1791, a detachment of volunteers was raised from the Royal Artillery battalions for serving in British India. Two companies were created with a major, adjutant, and quarter-master, along with the men. The commanding officer was Major David Scott. Lt. James Hunter, along with Captain T Ross and Lieutenants R Clarke, C Gold, and W Nicolay were the sub-ordinate officers. Leaving Woolwich in early 1791, they arrived at Madras in October 1791. These two companies served under Lord Cornwallis in the Tippu Sultan campaigns, leading to the defeat and siege of Tippu's army at Seringapatam in 1792. Major Scott, was killed on 9 February 1792, during the campaign. After a peace treaty was signed with Tippu Sultan, Lt. James Hunter, with the assistance of Lt C Gold made sketches of life in India and objects and buildings who attracted their attention. These sketches were published by C Gold with the title Oriental Drawings and attracted much attention in England as they were considered as a valuable addition to British understanding of Indian culture. Lt. Hunter died on May 18, 1791. James Hunter is buried at the Old Cemetery at Vellore, near Commissary Bazar, North Arcot District. The memorial monument raised by his brother Arthur Hunter records his birthday as 15 November 1755 and death day as 19 May 1792. As recorded in 1946, a giant banyan tree had fallen on the memorial.
The Delhi Gate of Bangalore

Sheet: 10 1/2 in x 16 3/4 in. (27.3 x 42.6 cm.) Mount: 17 5/8 in x 23 1/2 in. (44.8 cm x 59.8 cm.)