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Mortimer Menpes - Paintings 1903


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Gurfateh !

As you may of guessed from my posts , I have a passion for collecting pictures and books - one of my favourite books is 'Durbar' by Mortimer Menpes - I managed to get a first edition copy from ebay at a bargain price - in the days when you could get a bargain on ebay !

It is special as it comes from the library of the Maharaja of Alwar (Rajastan) - The book published in 1903 is a pictorial record of the Delhi Darbar, held on New year's day 1903, to celebrate the declaration of Edward the VII as Emperor of India.

The book is illustrated with 100 engravings of paintings by Mortimer Menpes - I think these paintings are stunning --- with amazing bright colours and interesting choice of subjects.( though some may think they are a bit twee and chocolate box - yes, you know who you are ! - and yes,I still think they are 'Stunning' !!! - and no, you are not the new 'Brian Sewell' --- apologies for that minor outburst - just a private joke/ongoing discussion/disagreement I've been having ! )

Anyway back to the pictures

I am posting some pictures of the 'Sikh' related engravings below for you all to enjoy.

Enjoy !

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

" A Sikh spear-bearer" - note the Dastar is adorned with numerous 'Shastar' - My favourite of all the engravings


"Akalis Fanatical Devotee" - an old soldier - veteran of the seige of Delhi - He has an impressive tall Dastar with Gaj Gah and numerous 'shastars' and 'Shingar'


" An Akalis Fanatical Devotee" - An Akali with a wonderful Dastaar Boonga with large Gaj Gah , and impressive body armour - the text relates a story of the eccentricities of Nihangs - if you look at the pony you will see it is wearing a kacchera - the author says this is because the nihang had made his pony a 'Sikh' ( make of that what you will - !!! ?)


"A retainer from Jind" - with impressive 'Farla' , an axe and pistol and an interesting mixture of 'aad chand' and what appears to be British army 'chakar' on his Dastar.


Spear-Bearer from Jind -


"A Sikh Warrior"


The Maharajah of Nabha - Hira Singh


The young Maharaja of Patiala - Bhupinder Singh


"Retainers from Cutch" - wearing wonderful 'Chogas'



"From Rajgarh" - while he may not be a 'Sikh' figure I was struck by the 'Boar Tusks' in the turban - a tradition maintained by Nihangs


"A Rajput from Rajgarh" - again he may not be a 'Sikh' figure but he is an impressive figure - with fanned out beard and royal turban, Shastar in one hand , a mala in the other hand , fine 'Choga' and a 'great-coat' - all great military traditions of India -- given to the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh .


Veterans of the 'Indian Mutiny of 1857' - Old Sikh soldiers - fine examples of proud Punjabi 'Babey'


Veterans on Parade - proudly wearing their medals


These two pictures are neither 'Sikh' nor of the Durbar parade - They are of a simple Tailor and a Slipper maker -- I hope this is not offensive but something about them reminded me of the Bhagats whose shabads are included in the Guru Granth Sahib - namely Bhagat Ravi Das, the cobbler and Bhagat Naamdev - the son of a cloth printer father and tailor mother. The tailor with torn clothes and the shoe maker with no shoes just made me think of these Bhagats - and their beautiful Bani - apologies if this offends .

The tailor


The Slipper maker


These next pictures are of the book's cover and inscription - in case you're interested




(* All pictures taken from Durbar - Mortimer Menpes , text Dorothy Menpes - A C Black - 1903)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures !

Bhul Chuk Maaf

Ranjit Singh 'Freed'

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Thanks for posting these. Menpes also published a book called "india" and there is a oil paiting of the Harimandir in there as wella some more Paintings of veterens.

The painting of the Tailor was carried out in Amritsar, there is a limited edition drypoint print of this titled "Tailor Amritsar". These are remarkably similar to JOhn Lockwwod Kipling's sketches around the old city of Amritsar and the Amritsar Jail.

Another nerdy point; Menpes published all his books (including Durbar and India) in two first editions. There was a limited edition of 1000 books that were published with superior binding and each one was numbered and signed by Menpes. These sometimes come up for sale.

Most of the original paintnigs are now in various museums and galleries in Australia, where Menpes is considered an old-master for that country since he ended his days there.

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