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William Baillie, Calcutta, to Ozias Humphry, Portrait Painter to His Majesty, No. 13 Old Bond Street, London

RA Collection: Archive

Reference code



William Baillie, Calcutta, to Ozias Humphry, Portrait Painter to His Majesty, No. 13 Old Bond Street, London


23 Nov 1793



Extent & medium

2 pieces

Content Description

He has just seen Humphry's letter to [Gavin] Hamilton and so provides an account of himself. He was in furlough, trying to decide whether to pursue landscape painting, the "will-o-the-wisp" that led him "so far astray". When this ended in [17]88 another opportunity opened up which promised great and speedy profits, he resigned the service and has not been able to regain it. He continues to study art, landscape in aquatint and oil.

On the death of Dr. Diemer he was appointed superintendant of the Free School and Secretary of the Free School Society. He explains his duties, the salary is 380 per month with an apartment and so he is not badly off, with plenty of free time for other pursuits.

He has begun a series of twelve views of Calcutta and Fort William, etched in outline and inked. The set is to sell at 5 gold moben and he has subscribers to the tune of 5000 rupees. The native artists cannot take a view, but can copy very well. All Daniell's were stained by natives. He discusses the problems of working in aquatint. He complains that even if Gaspar or Claude rose from the dead they would not find purchasers in Calcutta. As a result of this lack of encouragement he will switch to portrait painting.

Alefounder returns home this season, not richer than he arrived but much improved. Devis too hopes to go home, although not with a fortune, his liberality counts against him. He paints good small figures and Baillie thinks his handling of these better than that of Zoffany. His portrait of the Marquess of Cornwallis now hangs in the council chamber and he will recieve a subscription for the mezzotint. He has recent visit Madras to paint Tippoo's two sons from life for a historical work. There are plans for this to ber engraved in England on the scale of the Death of Chatham by Copley.

A Mr. John Brown or Browne has arrived, an engraver. One of the Miss Harveys is to take up the pencil. Mr. Smart is expected from Madras. Daniell returned after a journey of three years with one hundred and fifty pictures. He hopes Daniell and his nephew return safely, with their treasure for George III.

A Mrs. Baxter is painting in the style of Sir Joshua Reynolds, but he does not fear her as a competitor. Mrs Hill is long since married to Captain Harriot and now makes "living models". A Fleming call M. Solwyns arrived two years ago and paints shipping very well. He is now engaged in 250 prints of natives in various costume. Leiut. Colebrother[?] sent home twelve drawings of Mysore County to be engraved by Edie. Leiut. Aubrey also has plans to publish views of Nizanu[?] County. If he were not a married man he would love to travel too.

He sends a couple of examples of his aquatints.