This monumental painting depicts pilgrims bathing and taking part in various religious rituals. Using the temple as the focal point, van Ruith brilliantly captures the activity on the ghat, with the hills surrounding Nasik in the background. The temple depicted in the painting is most probably the ancient Hindu temple Trimbakeshwar in the town of Trimbak, in the Nasik District of Maharashtra which is located at the source of the Godavari River; revered by Hindus as a sacred bathing place. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas.
Horace van Ruith was born in Capri and became a professional painter, specialising in portraiture, landscapes and genre scenes in oil and watercolour. Although he subsequently settled in England, he spent several years working in Italy. He visited Bombay sometime between 1879 and 1884 and is known to have established a studio in the city, where this work was painted. His works on India mostly portrayed the local people, especially those in various trades; coolies at work, cotton cleaners, cord makers and street musicians. In 1886, upon his return to London, he took part in the Colonial and Indian Exhibition opened by Queen Victoria where he displayed a number of paintings with similar subjects, including the panoramic view from Malabar Hill across Back Bay. Her son the Duke of Connaught wrote of van Ruith in a letter to the Queen, stating that "no man understands the peculiar characteristics of Indian life better than he does and he is a very clever artist." Pauline Rohatgi, Pheroza Godrej and Rahul Mehrotra, Bombay to Mumbai: Changing Perspectives, Mumbai, 1997, pg. 153.
Van Ruith exhibited regularly at the royal academy exhibitions in London, displaying "Money Changer, Bombay" in 1900. He almost certainly visited India again, around 1900, working in Baroda at the invitation of the Gaekwad. Despite his long life and obviously considerable output, his paintings are rare and seldom appear on the market.
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