“Interior of a Masjid”- A painting by William Carpenter

Interior of a Musjid, Ahmedabad – 1853

Water-colour painting of figures inside a mosque at Ahmadabad, Gujarat by William Carpenter (1818-1899) between 1850 and 1856. Inscribed on the reverse is: [In]’terior of a Musjid, Ahmedabad’.

Situated on the banks of the Sabarmati River, Ahmadabad was founded by Sultan Ahmad Shah of Gujarat in 1411 when he expanded the village of Asaval. As the new capital of an independent sultanate, an expansive building programme was carried out, including the construction of local and congregational mosques, a palace area and square, processional thoroughfares and gateways, and a central commercial zone. The architecture of Ahmadabad, including the style of mosques, is much influenced by local temple construction techniques and decoration. The mosques served not only as places of prayer, but additionally as venues for teaching, legal ceremonies, meetings and discussions, and on occasion as dormitories.

Source : British Library

I have come across this beautiful watercolor painting by a British painter William Carpenter (1818-1899) in the Rare Book Society of India’s collections. The interesting theme here is the interior of a mosque of Ahmedabad and its treatment in a single color of rich brown is in keeping with the exquisite hues of the stone structure of the mosque. Shades of brown with black are extremely pleasing to the eye with not a single harsh line or color in the painting. Watch out for the beautiful expression on the faces of the fakir and his followers and their body languages which so meticulously capture the ambience of an afternoon in a mosque.

For a British painter of the colonial times to capture the authenticity of a mosque’s interior in India is a great achievement.