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Samuel Davis, 1757–1819, British


Additional Title(s):


Watercolor, with pen, in gray ink, graphite, and touches of gouache on very thick, slightly textured, beige, wove paper
Sheet: 20 3/8 × 30 1/4 inches (51.8 × 76.8 cm) and Image: 18 1/8 × 25 7/8 inches (46 × 65.7 cm)

Inscribed in graphite, verso, center: "Tassisudon | House in which the embassy was lodged"; inscribed in graphite, verso, lower left: "J52"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
architectural subject
View by request in the Study Room
IIIF Manifest:

In his attempts to consolidate British East India Company control in northern India, the Governor-Genreal warren Hastings sent two missions through Bhutan to Tibet. The first was in 1774; the second, in 1783, was headed by Samuel Turner. Its "draughtsman and surveyor" was Samuel Davis , who had arrived in India in 1780. One hundred and forty-four of Davis's drawings of Bhutan from this expedition, both working studies and finished watercolors, are in the collection of the Yale Center for British Art. Of Davis's work Turner wrote: "His subjects are indeed, in themselves, are not more remarkable for their grandeur and beauty, that for the judgement, fidelity, and taste with which he has seized on and recorded their features." Turner has nine of the drawings engraved as illustrations to his An Account of an Embassy to the Court of the Teshoo Lama in Tibet; Containing a Narrative of a Journey through Bootan, and Part of Tibet in 1800. Tassisudon (Tashichö Dzong) was the site of the Bhutanese summer capital. According to a narrative of the 1774 mission, the palace had three thousand residents, all men and a third of them Buddhist monks. In his account Turner commented on his party's accommodation, the subject of this watercolor by Davis: "Our habitation, which was within a stone's throw of the palace, was extremely commodious, and well adapted to our use."

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. pg. 96 cat. no. 78

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