Truly magnificent aquatint by Thomas & William Daniell, after a drawing by Thomas Daniell, coloured by hand, on 'Whatman' wove paper. London: published by Thomas Daniell.
One the great images from the greatest illustrated work on India. Present day Madurai was the capital "of the Nayakas who ruled the southernmost part of the Tamil zone in the 16th-17th centuries...[The palace was] traditionally associated with Tirumala Nayaka, the most famous of the Madurai rulers in the middle of the 17th century, the palace in the southern part of the city is the grandest royal structure still standing in the Tamil country" (Martinelli/Michell p.154).
The Daniells' Oriental Scenery is considered to be the finest illustrated work on India. Thomas Daniell and his nephew William spent nine years in India making studies, sketches and drawings of the scenery, architecture, and antiquities that graced the countryside. They then devoted a further thirteen years to publishing their remarkably accurate aquatints. In Britain, the impact was explosive. A cult of Indian architecture, landscaping and interior decoration arose, with the Royal Pavilion at Brighton as its centerpiece. The Daniells gave the English public their first accurate look at the exotic sub-continent. Their great achievement still lies in their ability to blend the picturesque with the real, resulting in images that capture the European taste for the sublime landscape, while still remaining faithful to their subjects. Consisting of one hundred and forty-four views, published in six parts, the work was issued in seven stages: three sets of twenty-four plates titled Oriental Scenery with title dates of 1795, 1797, and 1801; twelve plates titled Antiquities of India dated 1799; twenty-four plates titled Hindoo Excavations dated 1803; twenty-four plates titled Views in Hindoostan dated 1807; and twelve further plates of Antiquities of India published without a title page in 1808. All plates were engraved by the Daniells and all are taken from their drawings save the twenty-four plates of Hindoo Excavations, which are after drawings by James Wales.