Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Cast Courts, Room 46, The Chitra Nirmal Sethia Gallery

The Sanchi Tope

Oil Painting
1870-1874 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This painting documents the making of a plaster cast of the eastern gateway of the Sanchi stupa. The cast was made to be displayed in the South Kensington Museum’s Architecture Court.

Henry Hardy Cole was responsible for organising the making of the plaster casts and in his Catalogue of the Objects of Indian Art exhibited in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1874), footnote on pp.13-14, he writes:

'This cast was made in the winter of 1869-70, under my direction…Our party left Calcutta 10th December, 1869, and Jubbulpore on the 13th, where the materials, tools, plaster of Paris, &c., weighing in all 28 tons, were transferred to country carts drawn by bullocks. Sixty carts were procured at Jubbulpore, and on 20th December the march was commenced to Sanchi about 180 miles distant. On 7th January 1870 Sanchi was reached and the work of casting commenced…The painted illustrations, which are exhibited near the gateway, show the positions of the gateways round the tope, of the encampment near the tope, and of the difficulties besetting the transport of materials, &c., from Jabbalpúr [sic] to Sanchi.
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object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief Description
Oil Painting, 'The Sanchi Tope', oil on canvas, India, 1870-1874
Physical Description
Painting depicting the Sanchi Tope (stupa), the gateways around the stupa, and figures in the foreground carrying casts away from the site
Dimensions
  • Sight size height: 274cm
  • Sight size width: 184cm
  • Depth: 3.4cm
Production typeUnique
Object history
This painting, and its two companions (IPN.903, IPN.904), must have been painted at some time between January 1870 and 1874, but none appears in the Museum's records. Since they were on display in the South Kensington Museum in 1874 at the latest, they might conceivably have been lent by the India Museum and then have been officially acquired when the India Museum's collection was dispersed.

09200 (IS), later renumbered IPN 902 but now known by its original number, could not be found in 1937 and was written off; in 1999 it was written back on.



Historical significance: In his Catalogue of the Objects of Indian Art exhibited in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1874), footnote on pp.13-14, Henry Hardy Cole writes:



In the large South Court of the Kensington Museum may be seen a plaster facsimile of the eastern gateway of the Sanchi Tope, together with painted illustrations of the tope and the mode of conducting the casting operations. [The cast was destroyed in the mid-1950s, when the Indian Museum was pulled down to make way for Imperial College.]



This cast was made in the winter of 1869-70, under my direction…Our party left Calcutta 10th December, 1869, and Jubbulpore on the 13th, where the materials, tools, plaster of Paris, &c., weighing in all 28 tons, were transferred to country carts drawn by bullocks. Sixty carts were procured at Jubbulpore, and on 20th December the march was commenced to Sanchi about 180 miles distant. On 7th January 1870 Sanchi was reached and the work of casting commenced…The painted illustrations, which are exhibited near the gateway, show the positions of the gateways round the tope [09200 (IS)]-of the encampment near the tope [IPN 903]-and of the difficulties besetting the transport of materials, &c., from Jabbalpúr [sic] to Sanchi [IPN 904].
Summary
This painting documents the making of a plaster cast of the eastern gateway of the Sanchi stupa. The cast was made to be displayed in the South Kensington Museum’s Architecture Court.



Henry Hardy Cole was responsible for organising the making of the plaster casts and in his Catalogue of the Objects of Indian Art exhibited in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1874), footnote on pp.13-14, he writes:



'This cast was made in the winter of 1869-70, under my direction…Our party left Calcutta 10th December, 1869, and Jubbulpore on the 13th, where the materials, tools, plaster of Paris, &c., weighing in all 28 tons, were transferred to country carts drawn by bullocks. Sixty carts were procured at Jubbulpore, and on 20th December the march was commenced to Sanchi about 180 miles distant. On 7th January 1870 Sanchi was reached and the work of casting commenced…The painted illustrations, which are exhibited near the gateway, show the positions of the gateways round the tope, of the encampment near the tope, and of the difficulties besetting the transport of materials, &c., from Jabbalpúr [sic] to Sanchi.

Associated Objects
Bibliographic References
  • Rohatgi P. and Parlett G., assisted by Imray S. and Godrej P. Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists: Paintings and Drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum, 17th to the early 20th century. Published by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, in association with V&A, London, 2008. ISBN 81-901020-9-5.p. 321, pl. 34
  • Barnard, Nick. 'A Third-Century CE Nagarjunakonda Relief and Other Sculpture from Andhra Pradesh in the Victoria and Albert Museum' in Shimada, A. and Willis, M. (eds.) Amaravati: The Art of an Early Buddhist Monument in Context, British Museum Research Publication 207. The British Museum, London, 2016. ISBN 978 0861592074.p. 84, fig. 110
  • Bryant, Julius and Weber, Susan; John Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London Newhaven: Yale University Press, 2017fig. 1.35. cat. 68. p. 24 and p. 530
Other Number
IPN.902 - Previous number
Collection
Accession Number
09200(IS)

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record createdJuly 30, 2001
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