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William Hodges, 1744–1797
Storm on the Ganges, with Mrs. Hastings near the Col-gon Rocks [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]
Former Title(s):
Mrs Hastings near the Rocks of Colgong [2005, The Art of the Exploration, exhibition catalogue]
ca. 1790
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
50 × 72 inches (127 × 182.9 cm), Frame: 57 1/4 × 77 3/4 × 2 3/4 inches (145.4 × 197.5 × 7 cm)

Inscription, on the verso, upper center: "Pitt & Scott Ltd | London | G. [handwritten] 1698 | #216 | [typed] 1685"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
barge | boat | canoe | clouds | journey | landscape | meteorology | rainbow | river | rocks (landforms) | science | storm | sunlight | tree | waves (natural events)
Associated Places:
Asia | Bhagalpur | Ganges | India | Kahalgaon
Associated People:
Hastings, Marian [née Anna Maria Apollonia Chapuset; other married name Marian von Imhoff, Baroness von Imhoff] (1747–1837), wife of Warren Hastings (1732–1818), governor-general of Bengal
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The rocks of Kahalgaon (known as Colgong during the colonial period) lie along a treacherous stretch of the Ganges River in the state of Bihar, India. The boulders are so large that they form small islands, upon which ancient tombs and dwellings were built. In this scene, a passenger boat is hurled toward the giant rocks. Trees sway in the wind and the crew lose control of the oars and are flung overboard. A shaft of light breaks through the clouds, a rainbow appears, and calmer waters beyond the rocks foretell that the storm will soon pass and the passengers will survive.

The painting was commissioned by Warren Hastings, governor of Bengal, after his return to England from India, to commemorate this dramatic episode in the life of his wife, Marian (née Chapuset), who survived this calamitous journey to arrive at his sickbed.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2021

William Hodges’s major patron in India was Warren Hastings (whose portrait by Johan Zoffany is shown nearby). When Hastings returned to Britain from India in 1785, he faced impeachment for alleged “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Although eventually acquitted, his career was ruined, and he retired with his wife, Marian, to Daylesford, their country estate that was decorated lavishly with furniture, textiles, and works of art from or referencing India. The couple were famously devoted to each other. During his lengthy trial, Hastings commissioned Hodges to paint this picture for Daylesford that commemorated a landmark event in their sentimental history. In 1782, Marian had made an epic voyage of four hundred miles down the Ganges to Calcutta, braving the notorious rapids at Colgong, to administer to her husband, who had fallen ill. Hodges represents the moment Marian’s boat is nearly swamped by waves and dashed upon the rocks. Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

William Hodges's most important patron for Indian subjects was Warren Hastings, Governor General of Bengal. This painting commemorates the near shipwreck of Hastings's wife, Marian, in the turbulent waters of the Ganges. During this storied incident, Marian, braved a three-day journey on the fast-flowing Ganges to reach her husband's sickbed. Her figure is hidden by the boat's canopy, leaving one to imagine her fearful state as the storm raged. Hodges painted the scene many years after both he and the Hastings had returned to England, making this scene a history painting rather than a portrait. Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005

The Critique of Reason : Romantic Art, 1760–1860 (Yale University Art Gallery, 2015-03-06 - 2015-07-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Imaginative Geographies (Yale Center for British Art, 2006-02-01 - 2006-08-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

William Hodges, RA (1744-1797) (Yale Center for British Art, 2005-01-27 - 2005-04-24) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

William Hodges, RA (1744-1797) (National Maritime Museum, 2004-07-06 - 2004-11-21) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Company Culture (Yale Center for British Art, 2003-09-16 - 2004-01-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Juxtapositions (Yale Center for British Art, 1997-11-19 - 1998-01-04) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 118-119, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Letters of Warren Hastings to his wife, Athenaeum, no, 4092, March 31, 1906, p. 386, Online Resource available through the British Periodicals database [ORBIS]

John McAleer, Picturing India People, Places, and the World of the East India Company, The British Library, London, p. 79, fig. 3.2, N8214.5.I5 M43 2017 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Morna O'Neill, Company Culture:, British Artists and the East India Company 1770-1830: October 16, 2003-January 11, 2004 , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2003, no. 26, V 1199 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Pratapaditya Pal, From merchants to emperors, British artists and India, 1757-1930 , Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1986, pp. 102, 104, fig. 97, N8214.5 I5 P25 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Martin Postle, Johan Zoffany, RA : Society Observed, , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011, pp. 150-51, fig. 138, NJ18 Z68 + A12 2011 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Geoff Quilley, William Hodges, 1744-1797 : The art of exploration : catalogue to the exhibition at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 5 July-21 November, 2004 and the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 27 January-24 April 2005 , , Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2004, pp. 185-6, no. 70, , NJ18 H646 +W55 2004 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Geoff Quilley, William Hodges, art and empire, Geoff Quilley shows how the work of Hodges, official artist on Cook's second voyage and subject of a major exhibition opening this month at the National Maritime Museum, sheds light on perceptions of the British Empire , History Today, vol. 54, no. 7, July 2004, p. 47, Online resource See Orbis; hard copy also available at SML [D1 H78 + OVERSIZE] [ORBIS]

Romita Ray, Under the banyan tree, relocating the picturesque in British India , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, pp. 218-19, fig. 95, N8214.5.I5 R39 2013 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Isabel Combs Stuebe, Life and works of William Hodges, , Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1979, pp. xvii, 62-63, 228-29, no. 263, fig. 178, NJ18 H646 S75 1979 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Isabel Combs Stuebe, William Hodges and Warren Hastings : a study in eighteenth-century patronage, , Burlington Magazine, vol. 115, October 1973, pp. 6558, 660, 662, 664, 665, fig. 40, N1 +B87 v. 115:3 Also avaialble online (ORBIS) [ORBIS]

Giles Tillotson, Artificial empire, the Indian landscapes of William Hodges , Curzon Press, Richmond [England], 2000, p. 118, fig. 44, NJ18 H646 T55 2000 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Yale Center for British Art, William Hodges, 1744-1797, the art of exploration : Yale Center for British Art, 27 January-24 April 2005 , New Haven, January 27-April 24, 2005, V1422 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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