An English landscape painter Thomas Daniel (1749-1840) also painted in the Orientalist themes, had spent 7 years of his painter life in India taking inspiration from its art, wealth, and fame. His was accompanied by his nephew William Daniel to this tour.
Early Life of Thomas Daniel
Thomas Daniel was born in Kingston upon the Thames in 1749 to his landlord father. However, his brother William and his wife Sarah took the succession of the landlordship of the Swan Inn at Chertsey.
At the beginning Thomas worked as a pupil to a heraldic painter and then he also worked as a coach painter. After that, he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools. Daniel mostly worked on landscapes and the floral piece of art. From 1772 to 1784 he exhibited almost 30 pieces of his artwork of different subjects in the Royal Academy Schools.
Despite this much talent and artwork, he found it very hard to settle himself in Britain. So he planned to move to India with whose stories of fame and wealth, Daniel was highly fascinated. Like other European, he also wanted to have a look at the New East that mesmerized all the travelers.
In 1784, Daniel as an engraver and his nephew William as his assistant obtained permission from the East India Company to migrate to Calcutta. In 1785, this duo set out for their long wished tour to India and started their journey from the Gravesend and traveling through Whampoa in China, they reached their destination Calcutta in 1786.
Daniels Travel To India
After arriving Calcutta, he circulated in a local advertisement of Calcutta that he intended to publish some views on the city and needed a few etchings for the same. He received a huge response and twelve plates were ready and given to him by local painters after etching, acquatinting, and some of them hand colored.
He then left Calcutta on September 1788 to make a tour of North-west India by boat. They traveled along the banks of River Ganges and reached Srinagar in May 1789. Thomas had an introduction with Samuel Davis who also was an Oriental and amateur artist while he was a student in London and their path crossed again. When Thomas and his nephew had their two years of stay in Bhagalpur, Samuel accompanied them.
They returned to Calcutta on February 1792 but took many midway destination and halts on their way back. Daniel took his next tour to Madras from Calcutta on March 1792 and reached there within 19 days. They stayed in Madras for 11 days and then took the hiring service of retinue to make travel nearby. It took them a year to reach back to Madras after traveling many short destinations.
Their third tour was to the Western India which was of very short term. They reached Bombay in March 1793 after leaving Madras in the previous month. This was the last destination of Daniel in India and then he arrived back to England by September 1794.
After his return, he published a set of some of his illustrative works under the title “Oriental Scenery”. He also published six set of volumes of his paintings that were done by him on his tour to India between the year 1795 and 1808.
He had also published his “Views on Egypt” in 1808, “Picturesque Voyage to India” via China in 1810. Mostly all of them were aquatint while being etched on the plates. His contribution to the Eastern Subjects was immensely noted between the years 1795 and 1828.
He was selected as the full member of the Royal Academy in the year 1790 and also a fellow of the Royal Society in the same year.
Daniel was unmarried and he died on March 1840 at the age of 91 at his house in Earl’s Terrace in Kensington.
Paintings by Thomas Daniel
Some of the illustrations of his masterpiece of art are
- English Landscapes in 1807
- Sher Shah’s Mausoleum in Sasaram in 1810
- Idgah at Amroha in 1810
- Bridge near Rajmahal in Bihar in 1827