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“It is impossible, to describe the delicious feeling of waking at Simla for the first time, and looking out upon the purple and shadowy dells below, and the dark and dense woods around, and the spotless Himalayas in the distance….” This is how Captain George Powell Thomas described his stay in this Himalayan hill station. Views of Simla was published 1846 to much acclaim as this review, published on 12 September 1846 in The Spectator, shows:
Captain Thomas has made sketches of the most striking features of the country round Simla; which have been lithographed in the tinted manner by Messrs. Dickinson and published in a folio volume. They are spirited and effective in style, and drawn on the stone with a freedom that is more agreeable than laboured and formal execution; besides being characteristic of the rapid and vigorous pencil of a soldier.
These views are remarkable for the variety of climate indicated in them: a water-fall dashing down from a rocky cleft amid trees and herbage, reminds one of Scotland; a sunny hill covered with verdure studded with villas, and having pine-trees rising in the foreground, resembles Italian landscape; and presently we are among dreary solitudes, where mountain-peaks covered with perpetual snow, the crevices bristling with pines, call to mind the sublimity of alpine scenery: occasionally a verdurous plain skirted by wooded heights presents an English aspect; but the recurrence of stupendous masses of rock, with a river forded by Indians, recalls the tree locality; and the vast scale of almost every scene proclaims its Oriental character.
Never before and perhaps scarcely after was Simla, the sanatorium of British India and the summer residence of the Governor-General, so well captured, both in lively visuals and the artists notes that accompany his sketches.
Captain George Powell Thomas, of the Sixty-fourth Bengal Infantry was one among those highly talented amateur artists whom we owe early Indian landscape views. His are the earliest lithographs of coloured views of the famous hill station.
The original book is extremely rare. Studio Orientalia’s is based on a copy from a private library. The original Elephant Folio format has been reduced slightly due to modern printing standards.