Les Civilizations De L’inde

This illustrated book with over 350 engravings and photogravures, authored by the French polymath Gustave Le Bon (1841-1931), was published in 1887. Gustave Le Bon was sent to India by the Ministry of Public Instruction (now, Ministry of National Education), Government of France, to methodically research and report on the arts and culture of the… Read more »

Somewhere in Northeast India Pt-I

This woodcut print by Chandan Bez Baruah (b. 1979) is titled ‘Somewhere in Northeast India Pt-I’ and was created in 2020. The desolation of Chandan Bez Baruah’s landscape speaks volumes. It bears witness to an ecosystem brutalised by rampant urbanisation. To the artist, there’s a close link between the collapsing of natural and political diversities… Read more »

Shadows under my sky – 4

This artwork titled ‘Shadows under my sky – 4’ is a woodblock created by  Soghra Khurasani (b. 1983), contemporary artist based in Vadodara (Baroda), Gujarat. Landscapes are a significant feature in Soghra Khurasani’s work as inspiring, open spaces that can be explored. This woodblock was part of Khurasani’s solo show, Shadows under my sky, at… Read more »

The Oriental Annual, or, Scenes in India

It’s a word that makes us cringe today, but the ‘Orient’ was a place of infinite charm for artists of Victorian England. To them, the British colonies of the East were exotic regions of smouldering intrigue, where dark-eyed, inscrutable people went about their mysterious ways. Of course, now we know this attitude to be ignorant—at… Read more »

Seeking Badri

Sarmaya founder Paul Abraham on why the artist has a special place in our collection

Wanga Valley

Samuel Bourne was a banker with itchy feet. Paintings of India so enamoured him that he quit his job in Nottingham and arrived in Calcutta in 1863. Now regarded as one of the earliest travel photographers in the world, Bourne started exploring Indian landscapes in the hills of Shimla and spent months in Kashmir, returning… Read more »

Aussicht Von Goa

This is an engraving after an older one by Jean Bellin, the official engraver and cartographer of the king of France. It is a town plan of Goa in the panorama view including mountains, trees, buildings, elephants, ships in the harbor, boats resting on the shore, and religious buildings. It depicts the fort of Goa,… Read more »

Elephanta Caves, Bombay

This Johnson and Henderson image shows the outer facade of one of the caves on the island of Elephant in Bombay. Originally called Gharapuri and identified as the capital of the Mauryas in the Konkan, the island is spread across two hillocks separated by a narrow valley and dotted with numerous archaeological remains going as… Read more »


Samuel Bourne’s Himalayan expedition was an arduous one as he pursued photography and documented the untouvhed landscapes and sights in India. This photograph from the 1860s shows the giant or King fern, flora typical to this region.

Mount Abu; View of the Nukhi Talao (now Nakki Talav)

This is a photograph of the Nakki talao, Mount Abu, from James Burgess’ book ‘Photographs of Architecture and Scenery in Gujarat and Rajputana’ taken by Colin Murray in 1872. The hill station of Mount Abu is an important place of worship for Jain pilgrimages. It is a popular tourist attaraction, renowned for the group of… Read more »

View of the Cascading Waters of the Scinde Valley

Photograph of a glacier in Kashmir taken by Samuel Bourne in 1863. During his three Himalayan expeditions, Bourne photo documented landscapes in compoistions and artistic styles that appealed to the Victorian notions of the ‘picturesque’ and unusual landscapes such as this image formed a category in itself.

Village Todas, Nilgherries

This photograph was taken by Samuel Bourne  of the distinctive huts of a Toda Mund (village) at Ootacamund in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. Traditionally pastoralist, the Todas in the past lived in thatched houses spread over the slopes of the Nilgiris. This picture is one of many examples of ethnographic photographs captured at… Read more »

The Joona Warra (Old Fort), Poona

This is a late 19th century photograph of the Shaniwar Wada in Pune by an unidentified photographer. Shaniwar Wada, was once the royal residence of the Peshwas. In 1828 a great fire started inside the palace complex tarnished most of the fort, leaving only the heavy granite ramparts, teak gateways and some building ruins. The… Read more »


This image shows a townscape interspersed with buildings and trees. The primary colours here are yellow, green, black and ash – while the signature ‘Souza-esque’ style of blunt, cruel humour is lent by the powerful strokes of green and yellow, fierce lines and bold swaths of ash. Souza believed that art offered the only respite… Read more »

Unicorn on a Wall and Houses

This watercolour depicts a singular house, in front of which stands a white unicorn. The detailing on certain sections of the house such as the turn of the staircase and the outer brick-wall are inspirations derived from extremely detailed Indian miniature paintings. There are two trees on either side of the building. However, the unicorn… Read more »

The Prospect of Cranganor

This is an engraving on Hand-made paper, after Hilippus Baldaeus (1632 – 1672). Craganor is the Anglisised name of the region of Kodungallur, a municipality in the Thissur district of Kerala. In history, the place was one of the leading ports and commercial centres of South India, also associated with the ancient port town of… Read more »

View of the Forts on the Hills of Veloor

This is an engraving of the hill fort of Vellore by J. Cheevers. The image shows a full-scale view of the fort, complete with walls and walkways leading up along the mountain. Vellore Fort is an important landmark in the history and culture of the state of Tamil Nadu, being built in the 16th century… Read more »