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Johnson, Edward Reginald, b. 1846
Sketchbook of Indian scenes and British colonial life.
India, 1869-1872.
Physical Description:
1 v. (ca. 170 p., with many blanks) : ill. ; 19 cm.
Rare Books and Manuscripts
DS479.J64 S54 1869
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund
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Copyright Status:
Copyright Not Evaluated
Archives & Manuscripts
The surgeon Edward Reginald Johnson (b. 1846) served in the British colonial army from 1868 to 1894, including posts in northeast India (1871-1872) and the northern region of Thailand (1883-1884). Cf. D.G. Crawford. Roll of the Indian medical services, 1615-1930.
Binding: In a later red cloth binding. Original patterned wrappers bound in.
Manuscript sketchbook kept by Edward Reginald Johnson during his service as surgeon in the colonial British army in India, from about 1869 to 1872. The sketches are predominantly in pen and black ink, with occasional graphite drawings and watercolors. A few are captioned and dated, with dates ranging from 8 April 1869 to 23 December 1872. The sketches include depictions of the casual life of British soldiers (and their wives); frequently racist depictions of the Indian local population; local scenery, fauna, and flora; and several absurdist, imaginary scenes. On two early pages the owner records his name, "E Reginald Johnson, HM Bengal army", along with two renderings of his initials, neatly monogrammed. The album also includes a single albumen print pasted in, showing an unidentified rustic harbor, probably in England.
All of Johnson's illustrations of colonial soldiers depict them at casual activity. These include a sketch of soldiers and ladies dancing, at Morar; soldiers and ladies playing croquet; soldiers on horseback ascending a steep mountain pass; a carousel, with British and Indian riders; a soldier on camelback; and an apparent self-portrait titled "My Bedroom", showing the artist reposing in open air, on a simple cot, with the company of dogs, a snake, a frog, etc. The faces and dress of British young ladies (presumably soldiers' wives) are featured in a number of sketches. Most of these drawings depict busts only, frequently with detailed renderings of facial features, dress, headgear, and hair styles. Many of the drawings of Indians are demeaning and exceedingly racialized. Among these various caricatures are a set of four drawings illustrating verses from a racist nursery rhyme in which Indians are killed, one-by-one. Some of the most intriguing images in the sketchbook involve imaginary animal subjects. These include a dinner scene in which a young lady is attacked by an impossibly large ant; a drawing featuring two men with the bodies of dragonflies, together with a lady bearing butterfly wings; and a sketch of a pair of frogs, in formal dress, playing badminton.
Subject Terms:
British -- India -- Social life and customs -- Illustrations.
Clothing and dress -- India.
Great Britain. Army -- Colonial forces -- India -- Illustrations.
Headgear -- India.
India -- Description and travel.
India -- History -- British occupation, 1765-1947.
Johnson, Edward Reginald, b. 1846.
Ethnic stereotypes.
Travel sketches -- India.
Portrait drawings.
Ink drawings.
Graphite drawings.
Albumen prints.

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