London: Henry Graves, 1846. First Edition,
Folio (570 x 465 mm). Hand-Coloured lithographic title, 10 hand-coloured tinted lithographic plates by Charles Haghe after Edwards, all mounted on card, lithographed dedication, letterpress description leaf both printed in blue, and lithographed plan . Original quarter red morocco portfolio, original silk ties, upper cover pictorially gilt with Shield and Weapons.
PRESENTATION COPY TO MRS ROBERT CORNISH of the only colour plate book concerning Scinde, produced shortly after its invasion and annexation by the dedicatee, Sir Charles Napier. Edwards was serving as Napier’s aide-de-camp, a Lieutenant in the 86th or Royal County Down Regiment.
Edwards’ Sketches in Scinde, are the only series of folio size plates by a British military artist devoted exclusively to Scinde. They were produced at a critical point in the history of Scinde, after its invasion and annexation in 1843. The artist was at the centre of events as a young officer of the 86th or Royal County Down Regiment, having been appointed aide-de-camp to General Sir Charles Napier, the conqueror and subsequent administrator of Scinde. Edwards’ remarkable work was one of the high points in the visual recording of Scinde,and falls within the context of a history of illustration by young military officers begun in the early decades of the 19th century.
Of the ten plates in the album, two illustrate the bleak terrain in which the British troops fought successfully at Truckee. Another five illustrate Hyderabad, successfully captured by the British two years earlier in 1843. The presence of red-uniformed British troops in two plates demonstrated who was now in control. ‘Main Guard and Government House, Fort Hyderabad’ (plate 5) Despite this, however, the tone of the accompanying letterpress is not triumphalist. Edwards gives a sympathetic picture of one of the former amirs , Mir Nasir Khan, noting ironically that it was his ease in the company of the British that was in part responsible for the ruling family’s downfall. The artist admired the impressive appearance of parts of the fort of Hyderabad, and, to establish a rapport with the viewer, noted that the round tower, which formerly housed the wealth of the Talpurs, was likened by the British to the round tower at Windsor.
The presence of young officers in Scinde was due to the increasing strategic importance of the area to the British, who feared the expansionist plans of both the French and the Russians. Missions were sent to the court of the ruling family of Scinde, the Talpurs, at Hyderabad in 1808 and 1809, to try to establish British influence
Manuscript presentation label fixed to verso of upper cover.
Abbey Travel 469; Tooley 193.