John Bellasis Watercolour of the Nun Rocks, Mount Abu, Rajasthan with a lady traveller, c. 1840s


Bellasis, John Brownrigg, Major, 19th Bombay Infantry.  A watercolour on paper, 11¾ x 8¾ ins, tipped to stout, thin card. The watercolour is signed lower right with the artist’s usual initials JBB. The reverse of the card suggests this painting was in an exhibition in 1885, being numbered lower right 7 with J. B. Bellasis, 10 Crescent, New Brighton added to the top right and titled in the centre The Nun rocks, Mt. Aboo, Guzarat, E.I.. A centrally pasted note dated  Augt. 20, 85 has the title Inland Rocks and offers a critics opinion, signed Collingwood Smith, RA (Critic). The two top corners of the painting have parted company from the main watercolour with the corners remaining attached to the card. As a Bombay Army officer most of the artist’s work was done in Western India and in the lands of the old Bombay Presidency. The delicate and precise nature of the drawing is typical of the officer’s work and drawing was an essential part of an officer’s training at the time. The spelling of Indian place names in English has changed several times over the last 200 years and is indeed still changing.    dec1/2

Major John Brownrigg Bellasis [c. 1806- 1890] was c1mmissioned into the East India Company’s Bombay Army in the 10th Native Infantry in 1822 and remained with that regiment for most of his career until becoming a lieutenant colonel when  he moved first to the 8th and then served in several regiments. He was on furlough during much of 1841 & 1842 and it is this period when he seems to have been painting most consistently. He came from a military family, his father, also John, being a major general commanding the Bombay Artillery around the time of his birth. The East India Register 1825 when John Brownrigg Bellasis was an ensign in the 10th shows Jonathan Hutchins Bellasis was a  captain in the same regiment, probably an elder brother, and Edward H. Bellasis was Private Secretary to the Governor.

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