Watercolour of the Wazir Khan Mosque Entrance
Painted by the draughtsman Amir Baksh in the Punjab style, this architectural watercolour of the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore encapsulates the grandeur of the Timurid-style iwan (i.e. the recessed arched entrance) flanked by two projecting balconies with details of the vibrant tilework mosaics of abstract, floral and calligraphic designs. In addition, there are worshippers depicted outside the main entrance; one of the men stands alone, centrally placed on the main stairs looking towards the direction of a bull strolling the street.
Born in Lahore, Amir Baksh belonged to one of the most prominent artist families, the Chughtai family, who had dominated the musawir (“painter”) and naqqash (“decorator” and “illuminator”) scene in the Punjab since the eighteenth century.1 In general, the paintings and frescoes made by the Chughtai family were not signed, therefore, much of their work remains anonymous.2 Fortunately, this finished painting has the artist’s signature on the bottom right hand corner.
Having studied at the Mayo School of Art in Lahore, Baksh was a student of John Lockwood Kipling. During the Simla Fine Art Exhibition of 1882, Kipling showed twelve of his own sketches while only two works by his students are known to have been displayed, including Baksh's watercolour of the front of Wazir Khan Mosque (most probably this painting), which was awarded the Patiala Prize.3 Baksh was later responsible for training a large number of Drawing Masters of the Punjab,4 and became the Head Teacher of Drawing in the Municipal Artisan’s Training School at Amritsar.5
Baksh is also notable for his unfinished work titled The Chauburji Gateway which is held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (Accession Number: IS.2491-1883).
1. R.P. Srivastava. 1983. Punjab Painting. New Delhi: Abhinav Publishers. p. 46.
3. Julius Bryant. 2017. “Kipling as a Designer”. In John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London, edited by Julius Bryant and Susan Weber, 123-150. New York: Bard Graduate Centre Gallery. p.130.
4. Muhammad Abdullah Chughtai. 1961. A Century of Painting in the Panjab, 1849-1947. Lahore: Kitab Khana-i-Nauras. p. 44.
5. Tahir Kamran. 2016. “Lockwood Kipling’s Role and the Establishment of the Mayo School of Art (1875-1898)”, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 26 (3) p. 456.