Artist Gallery: William Carpenter

William Carpenter Junior (1818-1899) was a water colour artist, born in London to a portrait painter Margaret Sarah Carpenter who had come to India first time in 1850. William Carpenter spent several years in northern part of India between 1850 and 1857  painting scenes of India, its people and its life. The Victoria and Albert Museum bought over 280 of his paintings.  In 1856 he painted Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza, the eldest son of Bahadur Shah II, the last King of Delhi, five months before the Prince died.

William followed his brother abroad in the early 1850s and painted in India for some years. Carpenter kept no diary, however his large collection of dated watercolour paintings allows his journey to be recreated. He travelled overland through Egypt and arrived in Bombay in June 1850. Almost immediately he travelled to Poona where others were escaping the heat in the mountains. By the time he returned to Bombay in about December he had painted a school in the old Maratha Palace and views of the Shaniwar Palace. He saw the new year in whilst visiting Salsette Island, after he had spent Christmas Day painting Mount Mary’s Basilica at Bandra. His paintings included a view of the Mahim Causeway which had recently been built to join Salsette island to the mainland.

In 1851, Carpenter met Tara Chand, the court painter to Maharana Sarup Singh of Udaipur and recorded that meeting with a painting of the Indian artist and his two sons. The painting shows Chand drawing – so he may have been drawing Carpenter at the same time. Carpenter painted landscapes and portraits of local rulers. He made three annual trips to Kashmir in 1853, 1854 and 1855. Carpenter also painted the Golden Temple of Amritsar in 1854. He travelled through the Punjab, Afghanistan and then to Rajasthan before returning to England in 1857. An important painting he returned with was a portrait of Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza, who was the eldest son of Bahadur Shah II, which he completed in February 1856. The prince died five months later, in July 1856.