Bellasis. A watercolour of Baramutee, now Baramati in Mahashtra. c. 1840s


Bellasis, John Brownrigg [Major, 19th Bombay Infantry]: Baramutee,  A large unmounted watercolour on paper, 17½ x 13½ ins [44.5 x 34 cm].  The artist’s usual signature initials JBB  at the lower right corner where he also repeats the title. Baramutee, now known as Baramati is to the east of Poona / Pune in modern day Maharashtra in the former Bombay Presidency. Bellasis has chosen his viewpoint overlooking a river crossing between fortified walls with a gateway to the left and mosque on the right. The colours, although quite muted, especially in the distance, remain bright and fresh as the painting has been in a folder for the intervening years since it was created. There is a small closed and repaired tear at the uppder right edge and the lower left corner has a faint mark where it seems to have been folded at some time.

As a Bombay Army officer most of the artist’s work was done in Western India, much of it around Ahmedabad, the ancient city which offered great variety for Bellasis’s penchant for Mughal and earlier architecture. This painting came to us with a group of other paintings by Bellasis, a number of which are signed and titled and, in the case of a very few, dated. All these are on the same paper and usually of the same size. The paper used here is not of the highest quality but is in sound condition with just a little chipping and very minor loss at the edges. jul5/4

Major John Brownrigg Bellasis [c. 1806- 1890] was commissioned 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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