It was the serene Taj Mahal, with its romantic story that became seared into Bartlett's consciousness during his time in Agra, India around 1915. The implications of young love shattered by untimely death are obvious (Bartlett's first love, Emily Frances Tate, died in childbirth). Bartlett scrutinized this Wonder of the World from every angle, watching golden clouds move past at the light changed. Monet had his haystacks, and Bartlett had his lover's mausoleum. In 1914, when Charles and second wife, Kate, were in Agra, the Taj Mahal was not swarmed by tourists fresh off a stay in a luxury hotel. At the time of Charles and Kate's stay in Agra, only a few tired pilgrims might be nearby, moving respectfully, quietly into and out of the view . Sleepy guides might have offered tea or other comforts, but everything was different then; quieter, less commercialized and much less developed. In his paintings and prints, Bartlett encircled alone a very private Taj, lit by moonlight, or early dawn, or seen from a deserted rose garden or from the fort at Agra. there exists a stillness that no modern visitor can ever know., a silvery light that no longer exists. Standing before these paintings and prints may be as close as any of us get to experiencing the innocent feeling before the First World War changed everything in the British empire, India, and the world. *
*A Printmaker in Paradise, The Art and Life of Charles W. Bartlett, Miles and Saville, Honolulu Academy of the Arts, Exhibition Catalog and Catalogue Raisonné, 2001, Honolulu Academy of the Arts, 48-51.
All of the following of the same subject are also illustrated above:
The intaglio Etching, Miles/SavilleCatalog No. 92, ibid. depicts the same scene.
The Color Woodblock Print, Miles/Saville Catalog No. 13 also depicts this familiar subject.
Original watercolor study for this painting, Taj Mahal at Sunset, c. 1914-15, Darrel C. Karl Collection
Signed and dated 1925 at lower left. Very fine condition, lined and recently cleaned, mounted on original redwood stretchers and in original clear redwood frame with finish restored.
Private Collection, New York until 2022.