Madras Mail of 12 May 1869, when the piece had just been installed: "The subject, a well-scene, is intended to illustrate irrigation" (qtd. in Bryant 82). But another report, this time in the Building News of December 1874, refers to both bas-reliefs more generally as "representing Indian agriculture, irrigation, and trade" (again, qtd. in Bryant 82). At any rate, this one shows people gathered round a well in the centre, over which a more distant figure is leaning in order to draw water. Four water-pots are to be seen among the men, women and children gathered here, and in the right-hand corner a man is indeed planting something. A dog, a goat and (above slightly to the right of centre) a pair of oxen appear as well. It is a crowded, lively scene., by John Lockwood Kipling. Installed in 1869, this was one of two marble tympanum reliefs over the main entrances to the market. Both compositions show many Indian figures in varying depths of relief. Although captioned by Julius Bryant as "representing agriculture," this one relates well to a more specific description found in the
Closer view of the figures on the right.
Bryant tells us that one of the models for the reliefs was shipped to England to be "shown at the London International Exhibition of 1873 in South Kensington, along with other examples of the Sir J. J. School's productivity" (82). Kipling must have been pleased with his work here. However, there doesn not seem to have been great interest in this event (see Weber 224) and a negative note of a different kind is added when another commentator points out that the reliefs depict "the Imperial ideal — strong-limbed Indian peasants thriving under a beneficent Imperial sun. The human reality is beneath..." (Davies 165-66).
Photographs by Ramachandran Venkatesh, and text and formatting by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use the images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images for larger pictures.]
Bryant, Julius. "Kipling as a Sculptor." In Bryant and Susan Weber. 81-105.
Bryant, Julius, and Susan Weber, eds. John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London. New York: Bard Graduate Centre Gallery; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017.
Davies, Philip. Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1660-1947. London: Penguin, 1987.
Morris, Jan. The Stones of Empire: The Buildings of the Raj. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993.
Weber, Susan. "Kipling and the Exhibitions Movement." In Bryant and Weber. 205-79.
Created 15 August 2017