THE VISIT OF ENGRAVER ARTIST HARRY NORMAN ECCLESTON IN 1980; REALLY MEMORABLE LECTURE ON ETCHINGS AT CHUGHTAI MUSEUM.
Etcher Paul Drury was a friend of artist M.A. Rahman Chughtai. We invited him to Pakistan. Due to health conditions, he was not able to make it. Instead of himself, he sent Harry Norman Eccleston to represent him here. This person himself was a famous etcher and artist, and President of the Royal Society of Painter, Etchers and Engravers. He was designer of Bank notes and worked for Bank of England itself. A very jovial and full of life person, he was a joy to behold here, giving a professional lecture to a first-time audience here. Surely some must be remembering same, as we ourselves do now. But he left a copy of his lecture to us, and we will upload the same on our blog soon. He also presented us with an etching of his own for our museum, as we presented some to him too. The same ended in the Victoria and Albert Museum as a gift from Paul Drury. Paul Drury died in 1987.
Harry Norman Eccleston 1923-2010, also recorded an interview here with us on Chughtai art. At end of his lecture, he says:
“One thing is certain, to know Chughtai art to appreciate him fully one must know both the paintings and the prints. Each in its own right unite to a remarkable body of work for an artist to have fully left; together they are truly astonishing achievement by a great artist.”
THE DESCENDANT OF USTAD AHMAD MIMAR AT LUCKNOW COURT; FOUND SERVING NAWAB YASMEEN MAHAL WIFE OF WAJID ALI SHAH.
The fore fathers of Ustad Ahmad Mimar are famous as having come from Herat, but trained in Turkey under Ustad Sinan, known as Ustad Yusuf Burkurdar, son of Muhammed Hussain. Ustad Yusuf is traced through his works at the city of Hisar, in Haryana. But Ahmad was born in Lahore, and is referred as Lahori all the time. Their children spread themselves to various Courts at Delhi, Shahjahanabad, Jaipur, Peshawer, Kabul and Lahore. It is also known to have extended themselves to Lucknow, mainly at the Court of Wajid Ali Shah.
A manuscript of recited Naats at the Court of Wajid Ali Shah, by Aulad Ali, son of Amir Ali, Naqsha Nawis Sultani. This is Amiruddin Ali, beloved son of Imamuddin Riazi of Shahjahanabad. Aulad Ali mentions being on the payroll of Nawab Yasmeen Mahal, African queen of Wajid Ali Shah.At same time he refers to his father as being a Naqsha Nawis Sultani, that is Royal draughtsman or architect to the Court. We do hear of an architect in Oudh namely Kifayatullah of an Imambara there, as being from the same family. There is an inscription in the building itself of his service to Royal architecture.
Aulad Ali also mentions working under English rule, as well as Bahadur Pratap Singh Rawat. He also served both of same in his capacity. In any case the missing link in Lucknow is put on record.
A STUDY OF LETTERS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI BIZARRE REVELATIONS, CONTACTS WITH TURKISH SULTANS AND OFFER OF HELP IN PROJECTS.
Lisa Jardine, the late scholar from the University of London, writes: “In a series of letters written around 1484 and preserved in one of his many notebooks, Leonardo reports to someone he calls Devatdar Kait-Bai, on the findings of a lengthy scientific mission conducted along the politically contested Turkish coast. (Was Leonardo there in Turkey?) But Sultan Qaitbay was in fact the cultivated and culturally ambitious Mamluk Sultan at this date.” It is understood that East and West were on the road to cross fertilization of aesthetics.
The Renaissance art between East and West is being thoroughly documented and exposes the bigotry of some scholars, for some such exchanges put their arrogance to shame. One such brilliant artist was Gentile Bellini, who worked at the Sultan’s court itself. But the most amazing is exchange of letters between Turkish Sultan Bayezid and Leonardo da Vinci in 1502. The reply to Leonardo da Vinci is kept in the Topkapi museum in Turkey. It has been published too, and we reproduce same. A bridge is being proposed by Leonardo to bridge the Bay in Turkey. Modern scholars have worked on the design of the bridge and found it utterly feasible. In fact, the same design was actually used elsewhere, and worked well. It is strange that this did not work out at that time, otherwise it would have been another wonder of the world. The Sultan was apprehensive of the engineering, and did not think much of this “Kafir” as stated in the letter. But Leonardo had assured him that it would work. And it would have. History did not accept that.
It was a letter asking for employment. In which Leonardo also claims to know how to build windmills and pumps to extract water from ships. Then he talks about the bridge over the Golden Horn.
“I, your servant, have heard of your intention to build a bridge from Istanbul to Galata. And that you have not yet built it because it is impossible to find one who can build it. I, your servant, know how to do it. One would raise it to the height of a building so that no one can cross it because it is too high. I will do it so that a ship can pass under it even with the sails raised. I would make a drawbridge so that when one wants, one can pass to the Anatolian coast. May God make you believe these words, and consider that this servant of yours will always be at your service”.
Up to now, we always though that The bridge for the Sultan that he designed was too far ahead of its times to work on those openings. Due to the limitations of the building materials. It resembles the Calatrava bridge in Venice. And, even more, it resembles (in a small way) an existing bridge in China, in Zhaozhou. Built between 589 and 618 with a single arch of 37 meters and with a rise of 7 meter. Or several other Chinese bridges built during the Song Dynasty.