In the days before photography, many artists painted miniatures. This was the speciality of John Alefounder, probably the most famous member of the family - there is even a short entry for him in the original Dictionary of National Biography, although I believe some of the details given there to be inaccurate. The entry in the modern DNB is much better, although even there reference is made to him having a son, presumably from the inaccurate details of the print Pleasing Intelligence given by O'Donoghue (1908). I have attempted here to bring together all I can find about this artist and to assemble an account of his life and work.
There are a few mistakes which appear in several reference books:
That the artist's father, also called John, was a goldsmith. This appears to have originated with Williamson (1918) who says that a notebook belonging to the artist Ozias Humphry records payments to John Alefounder of Ave Maria Lane, London, for gold frames. He assumes that these payments were to the elder John, and that therefore the latter may have been a goldsmith. I suggest the payments could equally well have been to the younger John, particularly as he is known to have supplied frames to Humphry some years later, when both were living in India (Archer, 1979). It seems reasonable that a miniaturist might have a supply of frames and would sell some to fellow artists.
That he painted a portrait of John Shipley, president of the Royal Society of Arts, which now hangs in their rooms (DNB (Smith, 1882); Long, 1929). The president was William Shipley. Foster (1931) reports the denial by the Society of any knowledge of such a painting.
That he died in 1795 from the effects of the climate in India. The date is no doubt from the notice in the Times, which did not appear until that year; the climate is given as the cause of death (Smith, 1828; DNB (Smith, 1882); Bryan, 1903) presumably to avoid mentioning the real reason, suicide. That and the true date of death have been established by Foster (1931).
theatrical portraits of
the actor John Edwin, as Lingo in the Agreeable Surprise (O'Keefe) (O'Donoghue, 1908; Smith, 1883). Both the National Portrait Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum have a mezzotint engraving by Charles Howard Hodges of this picture. A small illustration can be seen on the NPG web site, and larger ones on the V&A and British Museum web sites. According to Smith (1883), the wording under the picture reads "Alefounder pinxt. C.H. Hodges sculpt. Mr Edwin in the Character of Lingo (in the Agreeable Surprise Act 1st) What a - what a - what a sensible soul! London, Publish'd as the Act directs Octr 16th 1784, by T. Bradshaw, No 6 James Street, Covent Garden." The original painting attracted some press comment when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy.
The actor Mr Williamson as Captain Ambush in O'Keefe's The Young Quaker. This painting was used as part of the scenery in performances at the Haymarket, as we learn from a review of the first performance (19 July 1783) in the General Evening Post, Saturday 26 July 1783 issue 7711:
The comedy was remarkably well dressed, and got up with every possible assistance from the theatre. It had four new scenes to decorate it, and those extremely well painted. In one of them a portrait of Captain Ambush is exhibited, which presented a very happy likeness of Mr Williamson, by Alefounder. The performers in general were not sufficiently perfect.
the tailor and mimic Moses Kean (Smith, 1828).
during his time in India (1785-1794), one or more views of the River Hoogly (Grant, 1952)
At least six examples of John Alefounder's work survive, in addition to various etchings:
Portrait of Mrs. Graham of Kinross (1786), painted in India, showing her with a child and attended by a jamader. A colour photograph of this painting has been published (Eyre & Hobhouse Ltd., 1979). A small illustration of the painting can be seen on the Bridgeman Art Library web site, and a larger one at the Art Prints web site. Mrs. Graham was possibly the wife of Thomas Graham, writer, merchant and sometime member of the Supreme Council and Board of Revenue (Cotton, 1927).
An Indian lady in national costume (1790), miniature. A photograph of this is given by Foskett (1987). At the time that book was written, the picture was in a private collection in the USA. According to their web site, it was purchased by the British Library in 1997 and is now in their collection. This is the picture sold at Christie's as lot 67 on 13 May 1997 for £1995 (original estimate was £300-400). The illustration in Foskett (1987) is monochrome, but Christie's web site gives a description of the painting with the colours. Unfortunately there is no illustration there, although there is a suggestion that one may be found on the front cover of the printed catalogue.
Larger version of picture A few years ago this previously unknown painting came to light in a Belgian market. As far as I know, it is not mentioned specifically in any work of reference, although it would appear to have been painted in India and could be one of the abovementioned views of the River Hoogly. The painting is in oil on linen laid on "carton" and measures 32 x 19.5 cm. There is a signature along the footpath in the lower right hand corner. The picture is now in the possession of Marina Verlinden Mechelen, and I am grateful to her and to members of her family for the photograph.
According to Head (1991) The Royal Asiatic Society holds a watercolour, The Fruit of the Pandanus, painted about 1790, a coloured engraving of which was published in Asiatick Researches, vol. III (1792) facing p. 163. A monochrome version can be seen in Head (1991).
Head (1991) also reports that other illustrations by John Alefounder appeared in in volumes II, III and IV of Asiatick Researches.
A painting, A House, Manufactory, and Bazar, in Calcutta, previously believed to be by François Baltazard Solvyns (1760-1824), is now attributed to John Alefounder. The main building depicted is the premises of the coachmakers Steuart & Co. Two versions exist: the original painting, now in a private British collection, and an aquatint engraving created and published by Francis Jukes in 1795, presumably from a drawing sent to London by the artist. Hardgrave (2004) provides an illustration of the painting (plate I.18, p33) while the aquatint (with the earlier attribution to Solvyns) can be seen in Losty (1990), plate 10. A more highly-coloured version of the aquatint is on the British Library Collect Britain web site. Hardgrave (2004), pp32-34, gives the reasons why Charles Greig, of the London dealers Eyre & Grieg, came to the conclusion that Solvyns could not have produced the painting, and that, most likely, Alefounder did: principally, comparison with known work (various pieces by Solvyns; the portrait of Mrs. Graham by Alefounder) and the fact that Solvyns made no effort to claim the engraving as his.
The painting can be dated to 1792-4. Losty (1990), pp 66-67, points out that the scene could only have been shown as it is following the demolition in 1792 of the Old Court House, behind which stood the coachmaker's building. In this book can also be found useful maps of Calcutta as it was in this period: 1757-98 (p34) and 1798-1858 (p72).
There are differences between the painting and the aquatint. Hardgrave (2004), p33, mentions the sky and the inclusion of birds (which he identifies as adjutant storks) in the engraving, and in the far left of the engraving, ships' masts which can be seen above a wall. Also (not mentioned by Hardgrave), only in the engraving, additional figures are visible behind the railing of the main building's upper storey colonnade, a foreground figure carries a curved implement, and the top of a building in the background can be seen above the main gateway. I suggest that the painting and the engraving were made using the same drawing, but that a few items were omitted from the painting.
A miniature of George Forbes, in the officer's uniform of the Light Company of Fusiliers, painted in India in 1786, formerly in the collection of Mrs. T. S. Eliot, sold for £9375 at Christie's in London on 20th November 2013. A photograph may be seen here.
A miniature of a Royal Artillery Officer, signed IA, in the collection of Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle, may be by John Alefounder, or possibly by John Alves (Walker, 1991). This picture was previously thought to be of Lord Keith (Long, 1929).
A photograph of a pastel, Poetry, appears in the page for John Alefounder in Neil Jeffares' book, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, on-line edition at www.pastellists.com. Another pastel, Music, is also mentioned, but it is not made clear whether this is still in existence. Both were exhibited in Paris in 1911.
Etchings for Geoffrey Gambado's comical work, The Academy for Grown Horsemen (1788). Google Books holds at least two versions of this work. The 1808 edition is available as a pdf, illustrations being signed H Bunbury (a name probably no more to be relied upon than any of the advice contained within the book) and etched by "Rowlandson". This copy lacks an etching of the author; that, together with simplified versions of some of the other etchings (presumably not by John Alefounder), may be seen in the "Limited Preview" of the 1825 edition. Genuine attribution for the original etchings does not appear in either edition, but rather in the advertisement for the book.
Another etching, of "A Balasore Bearer", which appeared as the frontispiece for the Calcutta Monthly Register in June 1791 can be seen in Hardgrave (2004), plate I.19, p34. Hardgrave mentions that Alefounder also etched various other frontispieces for the Calcutta Monthly Register in this period.
An engraving by John Alefounder of Thomas Deane Pearse, late Colonel commanding the Begnal Artillery, can be found as the frontispiece in The Calcutta Monthly Register for December 1790.
A letter from John Alefounder, writing from India in 1793, to his cousin Philip Havens mentions several of their relations.
|1753||Parents, John Alefounder and Sarah Vaughan marry at Greenstead, near Colchester, Essex||parish register|
|Elder brother George baptised at Greenstead, parents "of St. Giles's in the Fields, Middlesex"||parish register|
|1757||John baptised at Greenstead, parents "of St. Giles's in the Fields, Middlesex"||parish register|
|1762||September 23 Sarah buried, Greenstead. Custody of the boys passes to her mother, Ann Vaughan.||parish register; will of Ann Vaughan|
|1768||February 23 Ann Vaughan buried, Greenstead. Custody of the boys passes to her sister Sarah Burdox.||parish register; will of Ann Vaughan|
|1776||John enters Royal Academy schools as an architectural student||Waterhouse, 1981|
|1777||Living with his father at Ave Maria Lane.
Design for a Lunatic Hospital exhibited at the RA
|1779||Living at Mrs Angiers', Wardour St.
A Lady in Chalks exhibited at the RA.
|1780||Living at Mr Booth's, 81 Strand.
Portrait of a Gentleman exhibited at the RA.
|1781||Living at Mr Ireland's, 8 Bow St. Miniature of a Young Lady and 3 portraits of gentlemen exhibited at the RA||Graves, 1905|
|1782||6 portraits exhibited at the RA, including some that attracted comments in the press.||Graves, 1905||Wins silver medal.||The British Magazine and Review (1782)||September - paints miniature of Peter the Wild Boy||"Calcuttensis", 1882|
|1783||2 portraits of gentlemen, frame with 5 miniatures, Miniature of Peter the Wild Boy and A Fancy Head exhibited at the RA; painted portrait for performances of The Young Quaker||Graves, 1905|
|c1784||Marries Maria Jane Curd or Evans and moves to 25 Bow Street.|
|1784||Four theatrical portraits (including Harlequin and Columbine and John Edwin as Lingo), frame with 5 miniatures and a portrait of a gentleman exhibited at the RA||Graves, 1905||Bartolozzi engraves portrait of Peter the Wild Boy||"Calcuttensis", 1882||In December, prepares to leave for India.|
|1785||January 11 makes will.||National Archives PROB11/1266 fo. 138LH-138RH|
|February 12 leaves Torbay on the Montagu, arrives in the Hugli October 2.||Foster, 1931; Archer, 1979|
|December 29 Humphry reports him "melancoly mad"||Williamson, 1918|
|Portrait of a Gentleman exhibited at the RA||Graves, 1905|
|1786||January 25 Humphry reports suicide attempts.
Devis, the artist with whom he appears to be living, in Mirzapur, Calcutta, sells various of John's paintings and materials to raise money for him. John advertises for their return September 21, attacking Devis for his actions. Devis replies in November.
|Williamson, 1918; Foster, 1931|
|Paints Portrait of Mrs Graham of Kinross||Eyre & Hobhouse, 1979|
|1787||March Advertises loss of medals. Living in Court House St., opposite Larkin's Lane.||Foster, 1931|
|August - moved to Durrumtollah, opposite Esplanade.||Foster, 1931|
|October - restores Zoffany's Last Supper||Firminger, 1909|
|Portrait of a Gentleman exhibited at the RA||Graves, 1905|
|1788||In London, Bigg paints picture of Mrs Alefounder. This is displayed at an exhibition in the Royal Academy in April.||London Chronicle, 26 Apr 1788, issue 4915, p415|
April - moved to 4 Larkin's Lane
July/August - scheme for raffle of 28 pictures
September/October - scheme for 36 pictures of natives etc (this scheme probably failed for want of support); produces etchings for Gambado's The Academy for Grown Horsemen, according to the advertisement
December - Artist R. Miller living at same address
|Foster, 1931; Long, 1929; Archer, 1979|
|1789||February 10th, Bigg's portrait of Mrs Alefounder, painted the previous year, is published as an engraving.||O'Donoghue, Freeman (1908), Smith, J.C. (1883)||July - living at Loll Bazar opposite the late residence of Mr. Motte.
November - living at Bow Bazar. 28 picture lottery.
|Foster, 1931; Archer, 1979|
|Frame with 3 miniatures exhibited at the RA.||Graves, 1905|
|1790||Living at 36 Tiretta's Bazar. Lowers prices.||Foster, 1931|
|Etches Sanscrit for Sir William Jones||Cannon, 1990|
|1791||Portrait of a Dog exhibited at the RA.||Graves, 1905|
|1793||November - living at Boitah Connah.
Plans to leave and live at 1 Alfred Place Blackfriars Road London.
|Foster, 1931; Archer, 1979|
|Portrait of an Artist exhibited at the RA.||Archer, 1979|
|1794||February - departure delayed. Painting rooms at Mr. Solvyn's. Prices raised again.
June - paints miniature of the late Sir William Jones. Painting rooms at Dr. Fontana's, Tank Square.
December 20 - commits suicide in a fresh bout of depression. Buried 21st.
|1795||Death noted in The Times. Will proved.|
Peter the Wild Boy was discovered aged about 12 in 1726 by George I, who was hunting near Hamelin in Hanover. He was brought to England and entrusted to the care of Mrs King who housed a number of pupils of Harrow School, including Sir William Jones. John Alefounder's miniature depicts him at the age of about 73. He was eventually buried at Northchurch, Hertfordshire, the church having a brass plate with a sketch from Bartolozzi's engraving of the miniature (Cotton, 1927). The gravestone, sketch and accompanying inscription may be seen on the St. Mary's Northchurch web site. A print of the engraving was offered for sale, priced at 2s 6d, in Todd's Catalogue for 1794.
The National Portrait Gallery has an engraving of the picture, but without attribution to either artist or engraver. This is indeed Bartolozzi's engraving, as can be seen from the British Museum's version of the image.
Caufield (1820) disputes that the miniature depicts Peter the Wild Boy at all. According to his account, the picture is actually of a Mr. White, a paviour (layer of paving slabs) who "suffered his beard to grow to an immense size" in order to attract fees by sitting for artists wanting to depict unusual characters. "Alefounder, the miniature-painter, has palmed on the public White's portrait for that of Peter the Wild-boy, which is engraved as such by Bartolozzi, though there are not less than three original resemblances of that singular person, preserved by Falconet, Kent, and Drost."
Prints of John Alefounder's painting were offered for sale in the Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser, Tuesday 30 March 1784, issue 1068:
Just published, price 5s a PRINT ofPETER the WILD BOY, as he appeared in the year 1782. Engraved by Mr Bartolozzi, from a picture painted by JOHN ALEFOUNDER.
This extraordinary person was found in the woods near Hanover, and brought to England by King George the First, and was then supposed to be about 11 years old, and he is now living near Berkhampstead, in Herts, upwards of fourscore. He could never be brought to shew any sign of reason or understanding : he is very harmless and inoffensive, and so much pleased and affected by sprightly music, that he will express his pleasure by dancing, tumbling, and many antic gestures. When he was first caught, he had a companion with him seemingly about the same age, who though closely followed by the horsemen, was so swift of foot, as to elude their pursuit and escape, and was never heard of since.
Prints to be had at Mr. Boydell's, Cheapside ; Mr. Ryland's in the Old Bailey ; Mrs. Bull's, Ludgate-hill ; Mr. Dickenson's, Bond-street ; Mr. Bradshaw's, James-street, Covent Garden ; and of Mr. Alefounder, No. 25, Bow-street, Covent-Garden, where the original Picture may be seen.
N.B. Mr Alefounder begs leave to inform the Subscribers that their Prints are ready.
In reviews of a Royal Academy exhibition, the London Courant Westminster Chronicle and Daily Advertiser said, on Wednesday 1 May 1782:
41. A portrait. J. Alefounder. So, so.and on Saturday 4 May 1782:
94. Portrait of a young Lady, and Dog. J. Alefounder. Hung near the cieling. God forbid, the Painter should ever be hung so high ; as a reward for works of so much merit.
Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, April 29, 1784, from a letter signed "Candid":
Mr. Alefounder's Sir Fretful Plagiary, No. 9, and his Edwin in Lingo, promise great things from his pencil in that line
Same newspaper, May 4, in an article headed "The EXHIBITION":
Alefounder's portrait of Parsons, in Sir Fretful Plagiary (No. 9.) is not without resemblance to the countenance of this excellent actor—one obvious defect it has, is an excessive bulk of figure. It is so far no more like, than Parsons is to Hercules.
"The EXHIBITION" on May 11 was less complimentary about Lingo:
No. 82. Alefounder's portrait has not made as much of Lingo as the actor did. Independent of any subtleties of the art, it has not even the humble merit of a correct likeness.
The Morning Post and Daily Advertiser had this to say on Wednesday, 14 May 1784:
REVIEW of the ROYAL ACADEMY EXHIBITION
9. Mr. Parsons in Sir Fretful Plagiary, by Alefounder. —This has character, but not that of Mr. Parsons.
182. Mr Williamson and Miss M. Stagledoir, as Harlequin and Columbine, in the last scene of Harlequin Junior, by J. Alefounder. It is a very patched piece of business, and as flat as the side of a door.
198. Mr. Suet and Mrs Wrighten, as Ralph and Fanny, in the Maid of the Mill, Act II. Scene 19, by J. Alefounder. —This young man is all hand—we would recommend it to him to borrow a head.
Advertisement in the Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, Tuesday, December 7, 1784, issue 4856:
MR. ALEFOUNDER begs leave to acquaint those Ladies and Gentlemen whose Pictures he has unfinished, that he will be extremely obliged to them if they will make it convenient to sit as early as possible, as Mr. Alefounder expects to go abroad in the course of a few weeks.
A portrait of Maria Jane Alefounder, the artist's wife, with a child - George Alefounder, a godson of John's brother George and son of his cousin John, and not his own son (O'Donoghue, 1908) or nephew (Smith,1883). This we learn from the will of George's grandmother Alice Alefounder who leaves him, among other items, the Copper Plate Picture of him my said Grandson with his cousin Anna Maria Jane Alefounder as the same Picture is framed and Glazed and called "Pleasing Intelligence". A print of this engraving is in the British Library (O'Donoghue, 1908). The "intelligence" is presumably good news from John, contained in a letter clearly addressed Mrs Alefounder Bow Street London Pr Swallow Packet. The picture can be seen on the British Museum web site.
In the London Chronicle for 26th April 1788 p415, can be found a list of "Names of Persons whose Pictures are in the Royal Academy", at the end of an article on the twentieth Exhibition held at that place. Mrs. Alefounder is listed as number 27. There can be little doubt that it is Pleasing Intelligence to which it refers.
Advertisement in the Calcutta Gazette and Oriental Advertiser, quoted by "Calcuttensis" (1882).
Mr. Alefounder, Portrait Painter in Oil and Miniature,
Begs leave to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Presidency, that he is perfectly recovered from his late indisposition, and continues to take likenesses as formerly at Mr. George Forbe's, late Colonel Hampton's, Garden, Mirzapore; and any letters addressed to him at Messrs. Forbes & Ullman's in Calcutta, will be punctually attended to.
N.B. - During Mr. Alefounder's illness, his pictures (which were, in general, Portraits of his friends), with his colors, canvas, &c., were all sold, by Mr. Davis's order, at Burrell & Gould's, entirely unknown to him, and without his being once consulted in the business, though at the very time he was perfectly capable of practising his profession. To those Gentlemen who have been so kind as to return him Pictures, Prints, Painting Utensils, &c., Mr Alefounder cannot sufficiently express the gratitude he feels on the occasion.
The Gentleman who is in possession of a large whole-length of a Lady and Child, Mr. Alefounder will esteem it a particular favour to have it returned, as it cannot be interesting where the party is unknown, and from the Lady being a portrait of his wife, who is at present in England.
A miniature Picture of Peter, the Wild Boy, painted from the life in September, 1782; a frame containing five miniatures of his acquaintance in England; a copy from Sir Joshua Reynold's picture of a Lady and Child (Mrs. Hartley), with a number of others in Oil and Miniature; he will be greatly obliged to any Gentleman to consent to favour him with them, as they are of the utmost consequence to him, and will render him the most essential service. If the purchaser of the Match Boy will acquiesce to return it, it will be a most particular favour, as it is a portrait of a very near relation, painted in that character, to whom he is much attached, and a portrait of a child, three-quarters, painted with a balloon hat and white drapery, with a sky background (a show picture). As the quantity of Fitch Pencils were considerable that he brought, if the purchaser will favour him with part of them, they will be gratefully received, as there are none to be met with in Calcutta, and he has not any of them to paint with. Calcutta, September 21st, 1786.
1787, 15th October. - The picture made by Mr. Zoffani and hanging over the Communion Table having been represented by Mr. Alefounder (a painter and friend of Mr. Zoffani) to be damp and in some degree injured, the Churchwardens accepted the proffered services of Mr. Alefounder to have it dried, and this has been done as well as circumstances would admit, as appears from the following letter from Mr. Alefounder:-
TO - E. HAY, ESQ.
SIR, - I have this forenoon aired and cleaned the mildew of the picture with the utmost care and attention. I fear the painting is injured by the mould, as it remains spotty after cleansing it off. The cause I believe to have arisen from a canvas having been fixed behind the picture to preserve the original one, and being oiled after it was nailed on. The damp air remaining between the two must have in some measure occasioned it. I took the liberty of having it un-nailed sufficient to admit a small quantity of air.
I am (etc) 11th October 1787 JOHN ALEFOUNDER.
Mr. Alefounder attending the Vestry represents that the cloth or canvas put at the back of the picture ought to be removed, that the admission of air may prevent any injury from the dampness of the wall.
Ordered that the cloth be removed from the picture without delay.
The advertisement as it appeared in the Calcutta Chronicle on August 14th, 1788. It was also printed, without the final paragraph, on July 31st and 7th August.
SCHEME OF A RAFFLE
Twenty Eight Pictures,
IN OIL, AND MINIATURE ;
WHICH ARE CLASSED INTO FIFTEEN PRIZES, AS AFTER MENTIONED.
The Prizes to be thrown for with three Dice, Doublets ; and the Fifteen Highest Throws to be entitled to the Prizes. —The Choice to be made in Rotation. The Prizes to be delivered, the Day after the Raffle, by Mr. ALEFOUNDER ; at whose House, in Larkin's Lane, the Pictures may be viewed, every Day until the Raffle takes Place, —timely Notice of which will be given. 150 Tickets, at 50 Rupees each. -------+------- FIRST PRIZE. MR. SUETT and Mrs. Wrighten, in the Characters of Ralph and Fanny, in the Maid of the Mill, Small whole length. — Mr. Williamson and Miss M. Stageldoir, in the Characters of Harlequin and Colombine, in the Siege of Gibraltar, or Magic Cestus, (ditto) Second.—Mr. Parsons, in the character of Sir Fretful Plagiary, in the Critic, (ditto). — Mr. King, in the Character of Puff, in ditto, (ditto) Third.—The Moorman's Holiday, or Houssain Houssain Fourth.—The Churack Poojah, or Swinging. Fifth.—Mr. Palmer, Comedian, (whole length, size of life) Sixth.—The original Miniature Picture of Peter the Wild Boy, painted from the Life, in 1782. Seventh.—A Miniature of Mrs. Hartley and Child, copied after a Picture of Sir Joshua Reynolds's. Eighth.—A remarkable Fakeer, (three quarters) — A Native Girl, sitting, (ditto) Ninth.—A Bearer, smoking his Hubble-bubble, (do.) — A Portrait of a Spaniel. Tenth.—A Lady and Child, (kit kat) copied after a Picture of Sir Joshua Reynolds's.— Samuel, (kit kat) copied from the same. Eleventh.—A Lady and Child. — Love and Harmony.— A Lady contemplating, after Angelica Kauffman. Twelfth.—A Miniature of a Hindoostanee Lady. Thirteenth.—A Miniature of Mr. Baretti, after a Picture of Sir Joshua Reynolds's — A Drawing in Colours, in the Stile of Miniature Painting. Fourteenth.— A Portrait of a Mogul Man.— Master Bunbury, after Sir Joshua Reynolds. Fifteenth.— Five Landscapes TICKETS to be had of Mr. ALEFOUNDER and of Messrs. STUART and COOPER, at the Printing-office.
The following advertisement appeared in the Calcutta Chronicle and General Advertiser, Thursday, October 2, 1788:
MR. PATERSON, on Mr. ALEFOUNDER's arrival in CALCUTTA, suggested to him the idea of painting PICTURES of the MANNERS and CUSTOMS of this COUNTRY : but as he wished then only to paint PORTRAITS, he relinquished the idea : out since that period Mr. ALEFOUNDER has attempted two or three Subjects of this Kind, and finds from the Novelty great Pleasure in the painting of them.— Mr. PATERSON, and others of Mr. ALEFOUNDER's Friends, have offered him very liberal Assistance. The following are the Paintings intended to form the Collection : I. A Collection of Twelve PORTRAITS—of Nabobs, Rajahs, High Gentoos, Bramins, and remarkable characters. II. A do. of 12 Small Whole Length Figures, characteristic of the Natives. III. A do. of 12 Pictures, Customs and Manners of the Country, being the principal Holidays, and other occurrences, as hereafter named :
No. 1. The Hindoos, from a great Height, falling on Swords, &c. 2. The Swinging. 3. The Procession of Men, Women, and Children, with Iron Rods through their Tongues, others with Turbans through their Sides, and dancing in Triumph, &c. &c. 4. The burning of a Bramin on the Banks of the River, with Priests attending. 5. The Mussulman's Holiday of Houssain Hassan. 6. The Raut, being drawn by a number of Hindoos. 7. A Woman attending her Husband's Funeral Pile, and preparing to burn herself with him. 8. A Hindoo Nautch. 9. A Hindoo Marriage. 10. A Pagoda with Priests attending before their God, and others worshipping the Idol. 11. A Procession attending the Gentoo Gods, when carrying them to throw in the River. 12. The Mussulman's Procession of Boats, when carrying for the same purpose. DRAWINGS to be made of the Pictures, and the first Masters to engrave them. The Sale of the Pictures to defray the Expence of engraving, &c. Mr. ALEFOUNDER hopes those Gentlemen who wish their friends at home to be made acquainted with these Representations, will assist him in the Undertaking, as his present Circumstances render it impossible for him to pursue it by himself, without such a Protection. If a number of Gentlemen would agree to deposit a Sum of Money for the Execution of this Work, the Interest of which Money to be sufficient to enable Mr. ALEFOUNDER to prosecute the Work with Vigour, or by a Monthly Subscription, whichever may be judged the most accommodating to the Gentlemen. And the Pictures, as finished, to be sent to either of the Subscriber's Houses who shall be nominated to receive them, or any other Place that may be judged proper for the Reception of them, as Security for the Interest-money from time to time received for the Execution of the Work. And in case of any accident happening to Mr. ALEFOUNDER, then the above Pictures deposited as aforesaid, to be disposed of by LOTTERY, to pay the Interest-money from time to time received by Mr. ALEFOUNDER. Mr. ALEFOUNDER will, in the course of a Month, request the favour of a Meeting of such Gentlemen who may in the interim favour him with their Names as Encouragers of the Work, in order that a Plan may be fixed for carrying the Work into Execution immediately. Calcutta, September 25th, 1788.
An initial advertisement for the scheme appeared on September 11, but did not give details of the third set of paintings.
In the Calcutta Chronicle and General Advertiser, 25 September and 2 October, 1788, appeared the following advertisement:
SPEEDILY WILL BE PUBLISHED, (Price Eight Rupees) Embellished with Etchings, executed By Mr. ALEFOUNDER, an octavo edition of THE ACADEMY for GROWN HORSEMEN, by GEOFFRY GAMBADO, Esq. riding master, master of the horse, and grand equerry to the doge of venice. Gentlemen wishing to receive Copies of the above Publication, are requested to send their Names to the Printers, who will send them immediately on Publication. Calcutta, 24th September, 1788.
Sir William Jones (1746-1794), known as the father of modern linguistics, was a founder member of the Asiatic Society. He noted the links between Latin, Greek and Sanscrit and was the first to propose the existence of the language now known as Indo-European. John Alefounder etched the Sanscrit for Davis's paper On the Astronomical Computations of the Hindus which was proofread by Sir William Jones and published in the Asiatic Society's journal Asiatic Researches vol. 2 (1790) (Cannon, 1990).
Last updated 27th June 2014 by Peter Alefounder
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