Strange and Wondrous: Prints of India from the Robert J. Del Bontà Collection
History of a print
To feed public interest in India from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, American and European publishers and engravers copied and adapted original accounts about the country and its peoples. By tracing the history of these prints and reprints, we can see how knowledge of India formed and changed over the years.
One fascinating examination begins with the French gem merchant Jean-Baptiste Tavernier’s (1605–1689) illustration of temples and ascetics under a banyan tree in Surat, India. He originally published the scene in his book The Six Voyages in Paris in 1676. Tavernier paid particular attention to the “Faquirs, that do Penance” and numbered their intriguing austerities. It is not certain how many of these he truly witnessed, collected from previous texts, or imagined.
Click on details in this print and the ones following to learn more.