Sir Charles D'Oyly was a talented amateur painter who entered the service of East India Company in 1798 and held several government posts. Whilst in Dacca he met George Chinnery and went on painting expeditions with the celebrated artist with whom he became a close friend. One of his most productive periods was in Patna from 1821 until 1831, during which he held the posts of Opium Agent and the Commercial Resident, producing numerous paintings and sketches.
Gaya, in the province of Bihar, is one of the most sacred places for Hindus, where pilgrims come from all over India to offer pindas for the peace of departed souls. The centre for such pilgrimage is the Vishnupad temple, in which the inner sanctum is said to contain Vishnu's footprints.
This Indian topographical view, dating from Sir Charles D' Oyly's tenure of the office of Opium Agent in Patna, belonged to members of the Macnab family who were friends of D'Oyly and also related to his second wife, Elizabeth Ross. James Macnab was surgeon to the East India Company and Civil Surgeon of Patna. His son James Munro Macnab also held various posts in India including those of Private Secretary to Lord Hastings, the Governor-General, and Collector of Customs at Mirzapur and Agra.
Reginald Heber wrote '...he is the best gentleman artist I have ever met with. He says India is full of beautiful picturesque country, if people would but stir a little from the banks of Ganges, and his own drawings and paintings certainly make good his assertion'. (Heber, Reginald, Narrative of a Journey: Through the Upper Provinces of India from Calcutta to Bombay, Cambridge, 1995, i. 314)
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