DAG presents the first-ever exhibition of the complete series of 288 etchings by Belgian printmaker and ethnographer, Baltazard Solvyns. He called the collection Les Hindoûs when a second, enlarged edition was published in Paris between 1808 and 1812. This four-volume set, now a rare find, is a documentation of the people and material culture that Solvyns encountered over the decade he lived in Bengal during the 1790s. Curated by Dr. Giles Tillotson, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions and Publications at DAG, the exhibition is accompanied by a book which introduces, illustrates and contextualises this body of work.
The exhibition is a foreigner’s view of India’s past – or at least of part of it in the eighteenth century – a great body of work that focuses on Bengal and neighbouring regions, where the artist lived and worked for over a decade starting in 1791. Exploring an extraordinarily detailed and intimate portrait of a people at a given moment in history, The Hindus includes representatives of every profession and every level of Indian society and depicts festivals and sacred rites; shows us animals, birds and insects, trees and crops; records all the various kinds of boats, carriages and musical instruments that were then in common use. Solvyns looks at every person and object very closely, with an informed and inquisitive eye, sometimes with wit, sometimes with a melancholy grandeur.