View of Glugor House and Spice Plantations, Prince of Wales Island
Coloured aquatint1 January 1821
About the work
Glugor House is enviably located on the edge of a bay. Mountains rise up behind the house, which is within a nutmeg and clove plantation in George Town, the capital city of the state of Penang in Malaysia. The House was the home of a wealthy Scottish spice trader named David Brown.
In the 1760s, Francis Light, a colonialist from Suffolk, established trading connections with the Sultan of Kedah (the hereditary title of the ruler of the Malaysian state of Kedah). In 1771, the Sultan offered Light the port and coastline of Kedah as far as the Island of Penang in return for protection from the Bugis people of the state of Selangor. When the offer was reiterated in 1786, it was accepted, creating a defensive alliance between the Sultan and the East India Company. The Island formally came under British rule on 11 August 1786 and was renamed Prince of Wales Island. It remained under British rule until independence was gained in 1957.
This print, after a watercolour by Colonel Robert Smith, probably made in 1818, is part of a series of ten plates engraved and coloured by William Daniell, and published as the series ‘Views of Prince of Wales Island’ in 1821.
About the artist
Colonel Robert Smith was an engineer for the East India Company and was stationed in India with the Benegal Engineers (1805-30). He was later aide-de-camp for Commander in Chief Sir George Nugent and accompanied Nugent on a tour of India. In 1813 he joined an assignment to survey the frontier between Bihar and Central India. In 1814 he was posted to Prince of Wales Island, returning four years later after serving as field engineer during battles with Nepal. He spent three years in England (1819-22), before being stationed in Delhi. He then retired to Paignton, Devon, where he built his home, Redclyffe Towers. Smith made pencil and watercolour sketches throughout his career and, after meeting William Daniell in c.1822, also worked in oils.
William Daniell was a much travelled landscape painter. In 1784 he went to India with his uncle, the artist Thomas Daniell, where he assisted Thomas with his drawing and sketching. By the time they returned to England in 1794, William was not only a proficient draughtsman but had also perfected the art of aquatinting. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1807 and a Royal Academician in 1822. He refused the post of draughtsman to an Australian expedition to instead make numerous sketching tours throughout England and Scotland. Daniell is regarded as a superb aquatinter and his best works are thought to be among his Scottish views for ‘Voyage Round Great Britain’. He died in London in 1837.