art and rare books relating to India, Central Asia and the Islamic world

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Sikh items

Sikkhi Gate, Multan Fort, Multan.

Watercolour on paper. Inscribed on mount Sikkhi Gate Fort Mooltan. 205 x 300mm. (7 x 12ins). Mounted on page 280 x 380mm. (11 x 15ins). Circa 1850.

The ancient city of Multan known in history since the time of Alexander, was occupied by the British during the Second Sikh War, the Punjab having being formally annexed by a proclamation in full durbar on 30 March, 1849. The citadel at Multan was highly fortified and 'after a gallant defence, capitulated on January 22, 1849'. The Oxford History of India, Oxford 1923.

In nineteenth century India, British officers were often skilled draftsmen, and in their passing out exams were required to show a high level of proficiency. This skill was necessary for the maintenance of miltary logs to which illustration added an extra dimension. Watercolours and drawings were frequently produced during military manoeuvres, using whatever materials, sketchpads etc. that were immediately to hand. Many have considerable artistic merit and also topographical interest. They were frequently unsigned.