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William Hodges, 1744–1797
The Marmalong Bridge
Former Title(s):
Extensive View of the Marmalong, Previously the Armenian, Bridge [1985, Cormack, YCBA Concise Catalogue]
ca. 1783
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
27 x 36 inches (68.6 x 91.4 cm), Frame: 34 3/4 × 42 3/4 × 2 1/2 inches (88.3 × 108.6 × 6.4 cm)

Label on verso, lower center: “From the collection of the Right Hon. Warren Hastings | and almost certainly commissioned by him. | From the collections of Mr. Grisewood, Mr Byass, | Mr. Charles Baring Young and Mr. Arthur Young, all | of whom successively owned Daylesford House after it | was sold following the death of Warren Hasting’s widow | in 1853. In 1936 the paintings were left by Mr. Arthur | Young to the Kingham Hill Trust. | Probably bought by Mr. Grisewood in the Warren Hastings | Sale of 1853.”; lower left: “Pitt & Scott Ltd | London | G.[handwritten] 779 | #228 | [typed] 0704”

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
architectural subject | bridge (built work) | costume | genre subject | jug | landscape | leisure | long gun | mountains | people | river
Associated Places:
Adyar | Asia | Bharat | India | Madras
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Five years after returning from the South Seas, William Hodges set sail for India. He arrived in Madras in 1780, where a combination of sickness and the war between the Indian ruler Hyder Ali and the British delayed his departure for Calcutta for nearly a year. In Calcutta, Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of Bengal (whose portrait hangs nearby), arranged for Hodges to receive a salary from the East India Company and commissioned pictures from Hodges himself, including this example. Hodges described Marmalong Bridge as “a very modern work, built . . . at the expence of an Armenian merchant.” He perhaps intended to contrast such modern “improvements” with the ancient civilizations of India represented by the figures in the foreground, in particular the woman bearing a water jar on her head. The sepoy, or Indian soldier serving with the East India Company, is a reminder of the warfare then ravaging southern India. Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

William Hodges was the first notable landscape artist to travel to India. Staying from January 1780 until November of 1783, Hodges produced forty-eight aquatints, published as the "Select Views in India", and numerous sketches which he later transformed into major oil paintings. He visited the Marmalong bridge, just south of Madras, in 1780 while he was convalescing at Fort St. George due to poor health. The five prominent foreground figures include a Sepoy leaning on his gun and a woman carrying a water jug on her head. The painting's composition integrates lessons Hodges had learned from the neo-classical landscape painter Richard Wilson, while still capitalizing on the exotic appeal of the Indian subject.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 1999

William Hodges, RA (1744-1797) (Yale Center for British Art, 2005-01-27 - 2005-04-24) [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]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 116-117, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John McAleer, Picturing India People, Places, and the World of the East India Company, The British Library, London, p. 82, fig. 3.4, 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. 24, V 1199 (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. 140-41, no. 42, NJ18 H646 +W55 2004 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Isabel Combs Stuebe, Life and works of William Hodges, , Garland Publishing, Inc., New York, 1979, pp. xviii, 248, no. 325, fig. 209, NJ18 H646 S75 1979 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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