The mirror of unknown origin.
The original carved giltwood frame: ENGLAND, circa 1780
Mirror plate width: 70.5cm (27.75 inches)
Mirror plate height: 43cm (17 inches)
A late 18th Century etched mirror in the original English carved gesso frame. Scrolling in border. The scene represented is a view from offshore of Fort St. George in Chennai Port (formerly known as Madras Port) with ships in the foreground. A Union Jack flies in the centre of the image. ‘Madras was the Company’s first fortified settlement in India; the construction of Fort St George began in 1640 and continued on and off for another 150 years. It houses all the administrative and military necessities, as well as St Mary’s church (the oldest Anglican church in India), finished in 1680. The Old College, the equivalent of the Writers’ Building in Calcutta, was one of the Company’s few eighteenth-century buildings in the gothic style, and still stands’ (Wild, The East India Company, p.52).
This view of the fort is etched after a line engraving held in the British Library by Jan van Ryne (1712-1760) entitled Fort of St. George on the Coromandel Coast, Madras, belonging to the East India Company of England, c.1750. The scene appears in reverse.
Fort St George (or historically ‘White Town’) is the name of the first British fortress in India, founded in 1644 at the coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai. Chennai Port is located in the Coromandel Coast in South-East India, India’s second largest port and the largest port in the Bay of Bengal.
Exhibited at Martyn Gregory Gallery’s Chinnery and the China Trade: Historical Pictures by Chinese and Western Artists 1770-1910, catalogue 80, no. 100, 2004.
(NB. The measurements are the dimensions of the glass.)
Literature: To appear as an illustration in ‘Architecture and Urbanism of the British Empire’ – to be published by Oxford University Press in 2016 – in the chapter on Early Colonial Architectures.