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This engraving shows Bombay (now Mumbai) harbour, with the East India Company’s ‘factory’ (or trading post) and the factory’s pier to the left of the composition, and Bombay Castle to the right. In the publication ‘Bombay to Mumbai’ (1997), Kalpana Desai discusses the scene in this print:
‘Although not strictly accurate in its topography, the print gives a graphic impression of the Fort area at this early date. The Garrison Church (later St. Thomas’ Church) seen beyond Bombay Green, is wrongly orientated and still had its bell-tower when this print was published. The hills in the distance, notably those to the left of the Factory, are much exaggerated. It nevertheless displays the rich variety of shipping at anchor in the harbour.’
Desai goes on to further explain the history of the city:
‘Under the rule of the East India Company, the town developed around Bombay Castle, mainly because the area adjoined the harbour. The [East India] Company’s first Government House was situated within the Castle. Plots of land to the north of the Castle were granted to the various communities of Indian merchants who then built houses, shops, and godowns [dockside warehouses].’
Jan van Ryne was a Dutch artist, who moved to London in 1750 and worked as a draughtsman and engraver in the city until his death ten years later. In 1754, Robert Sayer published six ‘Views of Early Settlements’, which were both drawn and engraved by van Ryne. The titles were: ‘Fort St. George on the Coromandel Coast’, ‘Bombay on the Malabar Coast’, ‘Fort William on the Kingdom of Bengal’, ‘The City of Batavia in the Island of Java’, ‘Island of St Helena’ and ‘The Cape of Good Hope’. Van Ryne presumably had no first-hand knowledge of these locations, but worked from the sketches of travellers who had. The prints were later reissued by Laurie and Whittle of 53 Fleet Street, London, in 1794.
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