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Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Photography Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Photography WILLIAM HODGES (1744 - 1797)
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SELECT VIEWS IN INDIA
This very significant and rare book depicting the earliest views on India was published initially by William Hodges, then by John Wells, London, 1758 – 1788.
Issued in two equal parts with 48 hand coloured aquatint plates with 1 map and 1 list of plates. Original leather bound in hardback, with slight visible gilding on the borders and rubbing on the edges. The initial few plates have extensive foxing on the edges only and each hand painted plate has a description in English and French. Each of the 48 plates in this edition were hand painted by Hodges himself and very limited copies exist.
WILLIAM HODGES 1744 - 1797
Born the only son of a blacksmith in London, Hodges first trained at William Shipley’s drawing school. In 1758 he was apprenticed for seven years to Richard Wilson, the leading landscape painter of the day. His subsequent career centered around two epic journeys: first as draughtsman on Captan James Cook’s second Pacific voyage (1772 – 75), and later as the first professional landscape painter to work in India (1780-83).
With Cook, Hodges encountered cultures and lands either little known or completely new to Europeans. He was part of an investigative team that included the naturalists Johann Reinhold Forster and his son George, their assistant Anders Sparrman, and the astronomer William Wales. Undoubtedly, their thinking about Pacific culture, physical geography, the formation of the earth and the development of human society all influenced Hodges’s own visual record.
In India he worked under the patronage of the East India Company, including Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, and Augustus Cleveland, the District Collector for the region of Bihar, in north-east India. In contrast to the Pacific, India offered a rich history that fascinated Hodges. It ranged from the ancient Hindu civilisation, epitomized by the city of Benares, to the ‘golden age’ of the Mughal dynasty under the reigns of the emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan And Aurangzeb (from 1556 to 1707). He found the ruined city of Rajmahal particularly interesting for its former architectural splendors built under Sultan Shuja, one of the four sons of Shah Jahan. Along with his brothers Dara Shikoh and Murad Baksh, Shuja was defeated by the fourth brother, Aurangzeb, in conflict for the imperial throne in 1658.
In the face of such diverse experience, Hodges sought to develop a form of ‘historical’ landscape painting that could "represent the manners of mankind in the varied shades from the Savage in the wilds to the highly civilized in the palace". This ambitious ideal culminated in a one-man exhibition in Bond Street in 1794-95. However, and disastrously for Hodges, the exhibition met with royal disapproval and closed early. Bitterly disappointed, he gave up painting and moved away from London. He died in 1797, after which his reputation descended into obscurity. Now, for the first time, his true importance to British landscape painting is demonstrated here.
Condition NotesSlight foxing on the edges of some aquatints due to aging