The Government Art Collection recognises its responsibility to artists, colleagues and all our audiences to represent the diversity of the UK and to embed anti-racist and equitable practices throughout our work. We are taking action to address inequality in the Collection and its interpretation.
The city of Bhopal is seen in the distance of this hot, shimmering scene. To the right, the red clothing of a woman with a child, is contrasted against the bright blue lake.
Bhopal is the capital of the north Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal became a British protectorate (governed by an Indian ruler under indirect British rule) in 1818. From 1819 to 1926 it was ruled by four generations of Begums (female Muslim rulers). Shahjahan Begum (ruled 1844-60 and 1868-1901), who was in power when artist George Howard visited the city, was responsible for building the impressive, although unfinished, Taj-ul-Masjid mosque. More recently, the university was established in 1970 and in 1984, Bhopal was the scene of one of the world’s worst industrial disasters when deadly gases escaped from a pesticide plant, killing over 2,000 people.
A watercolour version of this scene is in the collection at Castle Howard, in north Yorkshire, a former home of the artist and one of the seats of the Earls of Carlisle.
Painter and politician George James Howard studied in Italy under Giovanni Costa and at the South Kensington School of Art, before exhibiting at the Grosvenor Gallery from 1868. In 1879 he was elected Liberal MP for East Cumberland. His wide circle of artistic and literary friends included William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Arthur Hughes, Walter Crane, Frederic Leighton, Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning. Howard travelled extensively, making sketching trips through Italy, Egypt, India, South Africa and the West Indies. From 1881 he served on the board of Trustees of the National Gallery, later becoming Chairman. In 1889 he inherited the title ninth Earl of Carlisle. Howard continued to paint until his death, from heart failure, aged 67.
Collection of ‘Lord Morpeth’ (presumably the artist's son: Charles James Stanley Howard, 10th Earl of Carlisle, 1867-1912; known as Viscount Morpeth from 1889 to 1911); sold through Sotheby’s, London, ‘Victorian Paintings’ sale, on 16 March 1988 (Lot 89), for £2,310; with Agnew’s Gallery, London; from whom purchased by the Government Art Collection in January 1990
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