Red Earth Collection
Floods in Bombay
Digital Archival Print (open edition)
18 x 25.5” / 46 x 65 cms
Original: Wood Engraving; 1868; Artist: Unknown; Publication: The Illustrated London News
(The work will be shipped without a frame, packed flat, or rolled in a tube).
A typical portion of the then-called Native Town is seen here completely overwhelmed by what seems to be a particularly heavy downpour. Sketched in an area that could be virtually anywhere between Kalbadevi and Girgaum, we see the citizens of late 1860’s Bombay struggling to get off the streets to get to where they need to, either by hitching a ride on someone’s back or on a bullock cart, or attempting to continue living their normal daily life, carrying vegetables or water over the flood level, or keeping their warehouse / shop open, like in one instance.
Bombay at this time would just be coming out a watershed half decade, between 1860 and 1865, where the price of cotton skyrocketed caused by dynamics related to the American Civil War, speculation on commodities and land reclamation projects reached an all-time high, and crashed spectacularly mid-1865. This may not have adversely impacted a typical Bombay resident, but the city would never be the same again after this period.
This scene was sketched exclusively for the London-based The Illustrated London News, the world’s first illustrated weekly magazine. As is often the case for such commissions, the artist remains unknown. But it seems that he was definitely talented, as was the engraver, as the flow of bustling life persisting amidst a torrential spell and a flood captures the struggle with which such an extraordinary day needs to be approached, a phenomena that most of us, no doubt, even today encounter at times.
Reproduction rights reserved.
Kindly contact us for customised reproductions of this artwork.