Sir Charles Barry, (1795-1860) was the architect of the Houses of Parliament. His son, Sir John, was a renown engineer, whose projects included the Tower of London. It is unclear when the drawing entered the collection of the Wolfe-Barry family, but it is likely that it was acquired in the first half of the nineteenth century, as these drawings were produced for a European audience.
The current example may be the only Agra draughtsman’s view of the Taj Mahal for which there might be a European prototype, that of the eccentric artist and indigo planter Thomas Loncroft, whose only surviving coloured drawing describes the mausoleum from the same south-west approach (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, see E. Koch, The Complete Taj Mahal, London, 2006, fig.357). Longcroft arrived in India with his friend Johan Zoffany in 1783 and drew some of the Mughal monuments of Delhi and Agra in the 1780s and 1790s in meticulous detail, normally finished in wash. For a similar Agra draughtsman’s view, see M. Archer, Company drawings in the India Office Library, London, 1972, pl.62.
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