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Journey into old Bombay

Visit this exhibition to get a glimpse into the city’s past with maps, illustrations and books from the 1900s

art and culture Updated: Dec 12, 2012 13:54 IST
Shweta Mehta

Over a thousand original prints, lithographs, illustrations, old maps and antiquarian books will be displayed at an exhibition in the city, called Rare Finds-Hindoostan Revisited, today. It will display (and sell) over 1,000 items, some of which date back a few centuries. “It’s the seventh time we’re doing such a show. The first one was in 1999,” says Dilnavaz Mehta, proprietor of Rare Finds and Partner in Hindoostan Revisited. Prices start from Rs 3,000 (a small selection is available from Rs 1,000 as well). Here are some of Mehta’s favourite picks:

Fishing boats in the monsoon, 1892
Expert take: This view embodies the spirit of the monsoon season in Mumbai. It is typical of the fast-blowing winds, high waves and turbulent seas with a dark, overcast sky. The fishing boats and the fishermen add to the nostalgia. The ghats in the background add to the picturesque element. A beautiful view that evokes a deep sense of nostalgia for me.

Bombay on the Malabar Coast showing the English fort and factory, circa 1760
Expert take: This is a significant work as the Vue de optics — a special type of prints published during the 18th century — are being exhibited for the first time in Mumbai. This is by renowned artist Jan Van Ryne. One can see the British fort with the apartments, custom house, the cathedral and the town of erstwhile Bombay from the harbour.

A map of India, circa 1870
Expert take: It’s a very appealing map. It has very artistic vignettes, and the most interesting and unique feature is the border, which has been drawn as it was seen on the wall of a temple in Benares. The two figures drawn above this decorative border are of Ganesha and Hanuman.

Byculla Station, 1854
Expert take: This shows a typical railway station — small in dimension — with a lovely sloping roof, and passengers patiently awaiting the train, casually leaning against pillars. This scene appears to be so far removed from what one would see at Byculla station now. One can’t image the station without impatient travellers, chaos and bustling movement.