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Drawing, Fatehpur Sikri, Birbal’s Palace, India

This is a drawing. It was created by Lockwood de Forest. It is dated March 19, 1881 and we acquired it in 2013. Its medium is brush and oil on thin paperboard. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

This sketch documents Lockwood de Forest’s trip to India. In 1880, he and Meta Kemble were married in New York and soon thereafter departed for India on their honeymoon, which also served as a buying trip. By this time, de Forest had abandoned landscape painting and committed himself to design and the decorative arts. He had started a partnership with Louis Comfort Tiffany, called Tiffany and de Forest, and was looking for decorative arts objects and jewelry to send back to the United States for use in interior design commissions. He traveled to Ahmedabad where he met Maganbhai Hutheesing and set up the arrangement for Hutheesing to manage a workshop producing Indian carved teak and perforated brass backed by de Forest family money.
In the spring of 1881, once the workshop was sufficiently organized, de Forest and his wife embarked on a tour of Delhi and northern India, which brings us to the location of this wonderful sketch: Birbal’s Palace in Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, outside of Jaipur, dating from March 19, 1881. This area was known for its red sandstone architecture, which particularly impressed de Forest. He wrote in his letters, “We spent several days at Fatehpur Sikri and occupied the House of Miriam, and we might have had the Birbal’s House if I had only told Mr. Lawrence we had been going. It was the one he occupied when he went out himself and it was fully furnished with rugs etc. It was opened for me to see however and I made some sketches of the details of the interior and a sketch of the outside which was a wonderful red in the sunlight. It is a perfect example of the architecture at the time of Akbai and has been preserved just as it was built.”[1]
[1]From the Lockwood de Forest papers, 1858–1978, research collection held at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled A Wonderful Red in the Sunlight.

This object was donated by Anonymous. It is credited Gifted by a Private Santa Barbara Collector, courtesy of Sullivan Goss - An American Art Gallery.

  • Drawing, Near Jericho, Wady Kilt
  • brush and oil paint on thin paperboard.
  • Gifted by a Private Santa Barbara Collector, courtesy of Sullivan Goss - An....
  • 2013-38-1

Our curators have highlighted 2 objects that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

26.2 x 31.7 cm (10 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.)

It has the following markings

Verso, in graphite, a geometric sketch of a rectangle intersected with lines in the center of board, likely by artist.

It is signed

In graphite, lower left margin: L de F

It is inscribed

Recto, in graphite, lower left margin: Fattipur Sikri / Mar 19/81; Verso, in graphite, lower right: #156431

Cite this object as

Drawing, Fatehpur Sikri, Birbal’s Palace, India; Lockwood de Forest (American, 1850–1932); India; brush and oil on thin paperboard; 26.2 x 31.7 cm (10 5/16 x 12 1/2 in.); Gifted by a Private Santa Barbara Collector, courtesy of Sullivan Goss - An American Art Gallery; 2013-38-2

We have 1 video that features Drawing, Fatehpur Sikri, Birbal’s Palace, India.

Lockwood de Forest | Passion for the Exotic

Join Cooper Hewitt curators Sarah Coffin and Gail Davidson, and Lockwood de Forest scholar Roberta Mayer for three presentations celebrating the Carnegie Mansion’s newly restored Teak Room....

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition Passion for the Exotic: Lockwood de Forest, Frederic Church.

This image is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian’s Terms of Use page.

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Drawing, Fatehpur Sikri, Birbal’s Palace, India |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=29 November 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>