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Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Photography Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Photography JOHN GOODWIN WILLIAMS
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Portrait of Maharaja Chandulal, Chief Minister (1809–1843) of the Nizam of Hyderabad, Nawab Ali Khan, Asaf Jah IV (1829– 1857) By a local artist after a painting presumably by John Goodwin Williams (f1. 1813–1837).Hyderabad, ca. 1836–1844. A very fine hand colored engraving. Inscribed: In Nagari, left part of the text panel: surapur davemkam [?]ua[?]/barad bhav [or:khav/] citra (meaning not entirely clear). In English, left part of text–panel: “MahaRajah / ChundOOLal / BahadOOr / Dewan–Peshear / Hyderabad.” In Nashtaliq, right half of the text–panel:rajayan raja[h] Candu la’l, maharaja[h] bahadur, fadvi rustam–I dauram, aristo–i–zaman; muzaffar–ul mamalik, Nizam u’d–daula[n], Nizam u’l–mulk, Asif Jah (Maharaja Chandulal, servant to the present Rustam, the Aristoteles of the time, the conquerer of countries, the Nizam of the empire, the Nizam ul–Mulk, Asaf Jah).
Chundoo Lall, the Minister, is a remarkable man. Above seventy– seven years of age, attenuated to a mere shadow, and bent nearly double, he yet has all the active intelligence of earlier life, and the same keen and expressive eye, with that pleasing and benevolent smile that never abandons him. When he called upon me he was obliged, on alighting from his elephant, to be borne up the steps of the Residency in a tonjon [ a kind of palanquin]. He conversed with me for an hour in the most animated way possible, speaking Hindustani and Persian with equal fluency. When I returned his visit, which was in the evening a few days afterwards, he gave me a magnificent in the grandest and most Oriental style. (General James Stuart Fraser in a letter to Lord Elphinstone, dated
October 26, 1838)
Chandulal was an experienced man, who could not easily be removed by the British in the usual way, by declaring him invalid, stupid, etc. The British hence had to look for another reason:
Chandoo Lall was manifestly the great obstacle to reform, the incubs that weighted heavily upon the Hyderabad State, sunk in uneasy slumbers, and yet the removal of that obstacle seemed a more and more delicate and troublesome operation. The Minister’s position, both in Hyderabad and Calcutta, was a very strong one, if only from his extreme old age, and his thirty years of undivided power.
James Stuart Fraser finally managed to have the minister “with that pleasing and benevolent smile that never abandons him,” as Fraser had described him, removed. In a letter to the then Governor General of India, Lord Ellenborough, dated October 30, 1843, Chandulal himself described the way in which Fraser did it.
I beg to inform your Lordship, that there are two circumstances under which, on the general plea of bodily infirmity, I have considered it expedient to resign the office of Dewan…The …reason is that General Fraser and Captain Malcom have entered into a pwith Sooraj–ool– Moolk for the purpose of ruining me. These gentlemen applied for a private audience with the Nizam, and being admitted into the presence, accused and spoke disparagingly of me, and recommended that Sooraj–ool–Moolk should be appointed Dewan in my room. To this advice the Nizam was pleased to make answer, “Chandoo Lall has now for many years been conducting the duties of Dewan. On what grounds should he be dismissed from his post, or why should Sooraj– ool–Moolk, a man who shows by his being in debt some twenty–three lakhs (2,300,000) of rupees that he is incapable of managing his own private affairs, be considered able to discharge the duties of Dewan?” General Fraser and Captain Malcolm, on hearing these words, were silenced. They are, however, bent on my ruin, and I have therefore thought it better to tender my resignation. These gentlemen have, furthermore, recommended my expulsion from Hyderabad; and to this recommendation the Nizam has been pleased to reply that “now that Chundoo Lall has voluntarily resigned, he remains in his own house, and on what ground should he be turned our of the city? How can I adequately return thanks to His Highness for the kindness thus evinced on my behalf? Finally, General Fraser, acting under the instigation of Sooraj–ool–Moolk, will listen to no representations of mine, but endeavours to incense the Nizam against me.”
Chandulal died in April 1845 and “Sooraj–ool–Moolk” was invested with full powers as minister on November 2, 1846.
The present painting is a copy, or rather a translation, of a British oil painting into an Indian portrait miniature either after a painting, which is now in the India Office Library, London, or after the mezzotint by C. Turner, published in 1844. The oil painting is signed “J. Williams” which in all probability stands for John Goodwin Williams, who is listed as “artist” among the inhabitants of Bombay. Williams was not the only Western artist who happened to be in Hyderabad during Fraser’s residency. F.C. Lewis is probably sketched the very “magnificent entertainment in the grandest and most Oriental style” that Fraser mentioned.
William’s portrait shows the minister in plain white dress, without any ornaments or jewelry. The turban ornament, finger rings, necklaces, etc. were all added by the artist of the present painting. The golden ornaments are even applied in such a way as if they were real: they are executed in relief. It seems as if the painter has taken the designation “maharaja” literally, since all rulers thus designated are normally bedecked with the finest jewelry. What, however, is more astonishing that the jewelry, is that the artist very ably caught “that pleasing and benevolent smile that never abandons him.”
Ref: Indian and Western Paintings 1780 - 1910 by Joachim. K. Bautze