200 years after Rembrandt sought inspiration from India (mughal miniatures), the Dutch painter Marius Bauer travelled to the subcontinent to capture its exotic sceneries and colourful life. His readings of oriental literature had sparked his interest in the region and with support from the Amsterdam-based art dealer, E.J. van Wisselingh, he travelled to Istanbul at the age of 21. Bauer further travelled to Turkey, Palestine, Egypt, Indonesia, Bali, and far-eastern places like China[map]. It is believed though that India and Turkey inspired him the most.
Bauer travelled to India twice. Once around 1897-98, when he was a fairly unknown artist; in 4 months he journeyed from Bombay to Benares, Agra, Gwalior, Muttra (Mathura), Deeg, Bharatpur, Vrindavan, Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Ajmer, Palitana, Baroda and Hyderabad. For his travels, he consulted Murray’s Handbook for travellers in India(1883), and relied upon the local tourist offices of Thomas Cook.
He returned to India again in 1924-25, by which time he was a celebrated artist. This time he took the following route, entering India after a tour of Ceylon (Sri Lanka):
Route 1: Madurai-Tanjore-Madras
Route 2: Hyderabad – Aurangabad – Bombay
Route 3: Udaipur – Ajmer – Mount Abu – Jaipur
Route 4: Delhi – Agra – Gwalior
Route 5: Benaras – Kolkata
On his second tour, Bauer revisited some locations, though his first visit also included Palitana, in Gujarat (pictured above). Marvelling at the Jain temple complex, he wrote about it to his mother in a letter. To the art dealer, E.J. van Wisselingh he wrote:
“…Order one thousand etching plates, thousand reams of paper, for a thousand Akëdysserils! We will earn thousands of guilders…”
Marius Bauer’s paintings of India
While traveling to different cities, Bauer made sketches and drawings at different locations. It was only later that he developed those into etchings, watercolours and paintings with his characteristic, impressionistic stroke (short brush strokes that give an overall visual effect instead of details).
Many of the paintings in this post are from the Rijksmuseum [see note in the end]
“Oh, he who has not seen Benares has seen nothing”
– Marius Bauer
On Bauer’s first visit, he was fascinated by Benaras.
“[…] the upper portions of the temples lit with a pink glow, and in the semidarkness of the great shadows of buildings
are the raging crowds so great and beautiful that it reminds me of a dream. Oh, he who has not seen Benares has seen nothing.”
Take a look at some more paintings of Benaras by Marius Bauer
Marius Bauer in Agra
“…I’ve seen the Taj Mahal and everything disappears for the moment from my memory, that marvel of marble repressed everything from my head, I’m nothing but delight, nothing but ‘Taj’.”
Fatehpur Sikri, Agra
After visiting Agra, Bauer also travelled to Mathura, and Gwalior.
Bauer also spent time at the Deeg Palace, the summer resort of the Bharatpur royal family.
“The walls [of the palaces] seem like ice, the domes of crystal, their golden peaks sparkling like diamonds. Not a stain disfigures it, it is as pure as snow. A little darker in color, but just as tense the image is reflected in the water, in which the stars are floating as if in a second firmament.”
It took the ruins of the Qutub for Bauer to fall in love with Delhi
“… maybe the most beautiful ruins in the world”, he wrote in a letter about the Purana Qila (Old Fort) . He also found the ‘Friday Mosque in Delhi’, quite impressive. Take a look at his sketches and paintings of Delhi in which the Jama Masjid features prominently.
Marius Bauer found Jaipur to be the most beautiful city in India. He continued his travels onward to Ajmer and Udaipur.
Marius Bauer in Hyderabad
You can find Marius Bauer’s paintings in the collections of:
Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), University Museum (Leiden, Netherlands), Gemeentemuseum (Den Haag), Mesdag Collectie (Den Haag), Dordrechts Museum (Dordrecht), Glasgow Museums, (Glasgow), Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Hagerstown), Teylersmuseum (Haarlem), Singermuseum (Laren), Tate Gallery (Londen), Kröller-Müller Museum (Otterlo), Museum Boijmans van Beuningen (Rotterdam), Centraal Museum (Utrecht), Kunsthandel Bies.
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