View near Point de Galle, Ceylon
Coloured aquatintpublished 1 May 1809
About the work
This aquatint landscape is from a series of prints titled ‘Twenty Four Views of St. Helena, the Cape, India, Ceylon, The Red Sea, Abyssinia’, published in 1809 and dedicated to Richard Wellesley, Marquess Wellesley (1760-1842), the elder brother of the first Duke of Wellington, who became Governor-General of Bengal. The illustrations show places visited by traveller and collector of antiquities Henry Salt during his travels with Viscount Valentia (later the Earl of Mountnorris). Each of the detailed illustrations includes figures in the foreground. The series of prints were met with some acclaim when published in 1809.
This aquatint was Plate 8 of Henry Salt's ‘Twenty Four Views...’ It shows Point de Galle in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), which was second only to Trincomalee, on the east coast, as Sri Lanka’s most significant harbour. The text which accompanies the image explains that Salt's view was taken:
‘…at the spot where ended a canal... constructed by the Dutch, for the purpose of bringing down from the forests of the interior those beautiful woods, which form the chief ornament of the cabinet-work of Europe.’
About the artist
Henry Salt was born and educated in Lichfield, Staffordshire. He studied under watercolourist John Glover, before moving to London in 1797 and becoming a pupil of landscape painter Joseph Farington and portraitist John Hoppner. In 1802 he made an Eastern tour of India and Ceylon as secretary and draughtsman to British peer and politician George Annesley, Viscount Valentia. They returned via Ethiopia and Egypt, arriving back in England in 1806. In 1809 Salt was sent to Abyssinia on a mission to deliver gifts and report back to the British government. He returned in 1811. Four years later he was appointed Consul General in Egypt and while there devoted himself to the study and excavation of antiquities. He died near Alexandria, aged just 47.