1857 : A Pictorial Presentation
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Military science (General)
Humayun II 1858-1877
The Publications Division
Publisher and Place:
Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India
ISBN-10 : 8123004214 ISBN-13 : 978-8123004211
Royal Mughal Ref:
This album has planned to present a pictorial account of the Indian struggle of 1857 on the occasion of its centenary celebrations. It contains portraits of the Indian leaders of the revolt and sketches and pictures of important places and significant incidents connected with it. In the selection of material for the album an attempt has been made to obtain, as far as possible, contemporary materials were either not available or were unsuitable for reproduction, modern photographs have been used. Authenticity of the sketches has been another criterion in the selection.
The task of obtaining material suitable from the Indian point of view has been rather difficult. Illustrative material on the subject is mostly available in the works of British writers and artists. There are hardly any contemporary portraits or sketches made by Indian artists. It is fortunate that British artists, many of whom were in the thick of fighting, have left us their impressions of 1857-58 in pictures and sketches; but for them there would not have been any pictorial record of some of the historic events of those years. Their drawings, naturally, are not in keeping with the Indian sentiments. They shared the feelings of the other British residents of the time and their productions extol the deeds of the British, and the Indian people are often treated with derision. However in the works of these contemporary artists we get authentic impressions of many places of significance in the struggle as well as certain incidents. The sketches were quite often prepared on the spot and in the midst of fighting.
It may also be pointed out that it is difficult to get authentic portraits of many of the Indian leaders of the revolt whereas a large number of portraits of British generals and statesmen of the period are available. It has been impossible to obtain a true likeness of even the Rani of Jhansi. Her available portraits are works of modern artists and do not conform to contemporary accounts of the Rani. Many of the main characters have not been preserved on canvas at all and outstanding leaders like Maulvi Ahmadullah Shah, Shahzada Firuz Shah and Rana Beni Madho are absent from the album for this reason. Some of the important places connected with the struggle have also gone unrepresented. However, no effort has been spared to make the collection as representative as possible.
The illustration have been arranged so as to tell a story. Notes have added to the captions to help in the proper appreciation of the pictures. The introduction contains a short and simple account of the struggle; the details of the fighting have been omitted.
This publication owes much to the help and co-operation of many. Dr. S. N. Sen , the author of 1857, gave advice regarding its scope and the collection of material for it. Dr. Bisheshwar Prasad, Professor of history, University of Delhi, helped in the final selection of the pictures, and Dr. P. Saran of Delhi University read the manuscript of notes and the introduction and made valuable suggestion Dr. V.G. Dighe, Research officer, Ministry of External Affairs, translated the letter of Rani of Jhansi, the facsimile of which appears on page 61. The work of collection of material and its final presentation was done by Shri V.C. Joshi of the National Archives of India.
For access to the material included in this publication we are indebted to many libraries, museums and other institutions in India and the United Kingdom. We would like in particular to record our appreciation for the facilities afforded to us by the National Archives of India, New Delhi, the National Library, Calcutta, the Amir-ud-daula Public Library, Lucknow, and the United Service Institute, New Delhi. Our thanks are also due to the Governments of U.P, M.P and Bihar for the co-operation they have extended us. We are grateful to the publishers of old books from which many of the illustrations have been drawn.
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