1st Series. India: Taj Mahal
with artist's CWB monogram in lower left corner and title cartouche beneath, TAJ MAHAL. 1916., signed in red crayon below, Charles W. Bartlett, and publisher's round Watanabe seal in lower right corner, 1916
oban yoko-e 11 1/8 by 15 5/8 in., 28.2 by 39.7 cm
Alternate titles: Taj-Mahal at Dawn; Taj Mahal at Sunrise; Taj-Mahal, Early Morning
An original mat window inscribed by the artist notes: "The Taj-Mahal. Agra. India, The Tomb of an Emperor's wife, The calm of an Indian Dawn"
Charles W. Bartlett was born in Bridport, Dorsetshire in England. In 1883, at the age of twenty-three, Bartlett applied to the Royal Academy in London, where he was accepted. Three years later he continued his training in Paris at the Académie Julian. In the late 1890s Bartlett met his second wife, Catherine (Kate) Main, who not only came from a family of means, but also was a skilled woodworker and carver. With newfound financial security, Bartlett was able to concentrate on his work even more. In addition to painting in oils and watercolors, he became interested in printmaking and started producing etchings. In 1903 he became a member of the Royal West of England Academy, and in 1908 he became one of the twenty-five founding members of the Société de la Peinture à l'Eau in Paris.
In December 1913 Bartlett and his wife commenced a three-year trip around the world. By January 1914 they were in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), then by February they were in Madura, India. The spent most of the next year and a half traveling through India and Pakistan before finally arriving in Japan in early autumn of 1915. Of all the places they visited on their journey, Taj Mahal in Agra (which they visited twice, once in March 1914 and again sometime in 1915) seemed to have the greatest impact on the artist. Bartlett produced sketches and paintings on site, and he revisted the subject several times in future prints and paintings. Surely it was more than the beauty of the shimmering structure and gardens but also the story of the mausoleum that resonated with Bartlett as well. As it is well-known that the Taj Mahal was erected as a grand memorial by a grieving husband for his beloved deceased wife, so too would Bartlett understand that loss as he was barely more than a newlywed himself in 1892 when he tragically lost his beloved first wife, Emily Frances Tate, in childbirth and their infant son only weeks later.
In 1916, Watanabe Shozaburo published a total of twenty-two Bartlett prints. He began with Indian subjects; the first six were presented in a portfolio titled 1st Series. India., with an additional four 'non-portfolio' designs in the same year, including this print.
Richard Miles & Jennifer Saville, A Printmaker in Paradise: The Art and Life of Charles W. Bartlett, 2001, pp.14-17, 47-58; illus. p. 106, no. 8
(inv. no. 10-4966)
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site last updated
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Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
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