Penn Library

The Illustrated Book, 1780-1830: selected from the collection of Harris N. Hollin


The golden era of aquatint engraving coincided with an enormous flowering of interest in the outside world, which British artists increasingly viewed as the territory of the exotic. No where was this interest more keenly focused than on Britain's Indian possessions. In A Picturesque Voyage to India (1810), Thomas Daniell's second volume of Indian illustrations, the author and illustrator provides a visual attempt to define the inhabitants of Britain's buregeoning Indian possessions. Both the popular reception and the artistic influence of Daniell's effort provide evidence that empire involved mediation--a cultural exchange that, if not equal, was at least two-way. The great garden landscaper and rural enthusiast Humphrey Repton was so impressed with the ornamental details in Daniell's illustrations of Hindu architecture (and the novelty they would afford his designs) that he incorporated them into his Designs for the Pavilion at Brighton (1808). Repton's long-held interest in rural life reflected a broader interest among English artists. J. B. Papworth, for example, provided a strikingly modern model of rural accommodation in Rural Residences (1832). His plan for the Cottage Orne betrays an emphasis on functionality rather than tradition and bears more than a passing similarity to the architecture of Repton's Brighton and Daniell's India.


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