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Eight of his watercolours (WD2087-94) and five sketchbooks packed with topographical drawings (WD309-13) are in the British Library’s collections, as well as two small oil paintings (F864-5, see: He was next appointed as Inspecting Engineer to accompany Lord Moira (both Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief) on his tour to the Upper Provinces from May 1814, being ‘selected from his character for talents and abilities’. The palace was built between 18, but Prinsep’s misplacing of the pediments suggests it was not yet complete when he sketched it. He formally retired in November 1832 at the relatively young age of 45.
The sketchbooks all date from 1812-15, while the eight watercolours date from 1814. WD309 covers Smith’s time with the Nugents December 1812 to January 1813 when they were travelling from Haryana up to Haridwar. He was with Moira until the end of 1814 when he joined General Martindell's Division in the Anglo-Nepal War of 1814-15, when he was appointed Assistant Field Engineer. Smith was next appointed as Superintending Engineer and Executive Officer at Prince of Wales Island (Penang), where he remained until 1819, when he took three years of leave (Smith 1821). ‘Government sanctioned the expense of a small estimate for the care of the Minar under the judicious rules framed by him’ (Political Letter, 9 October 1830, para. ‘The zeal and ability with which he successfully conducted the important public undertaking [the maintenance of the Doab Canal] so long carried on under his superintendence was acknowledged by Government (Misc. He continued to paint and numerous of his oil paintings have passed through the salerooms over the years.
In her catalogue Mildred Archer (1969: 317-23) dated the watercolours to 1833 through confusing his work with that of another Robert Smith (1792-1882), a Captain in the British regiment of the line H. 44th (East Essex) Foot, which was in India 1825-33. After completing a number of engineering works in Bengal in 1808-10, Smith went off on the Governor-General Lord Minto's expedition to capture Mauritius from the French in 1810. the Commander-in-Chief Sir George Nugent on his tour of the Upper Provinces, 1812-13. On a later occasion Lady Nugent wrote: ‘I took the engineer officer, Mr. Archer conflates the two Robert Smiths (1969: 317-18) and when discussing the eight fine watercolours by Robert Smith in the collection (322-3), gives them the precise dates in 1833 when the other Robert Smith visited these places according to his journal in the V & A, forgetting that our Robert Smith had gone to England in 1830 and retired in 1832. 258), aware of this inconvenient fact, but still following Archer's precise datings, gives them to this second Robert Smith, with whose work they have nothing in common. Not only are these superb watercolours, they give us precious information about the past before the age of photography. He returned to India on 30 October 1822 and was appointed Garrison Engineer and Executive Officer at Delhi, where he remained for the rest of his Indian career, except for joining Lord Combermere's forces for the siege of Bharatpur in 1825-6. Revenue Letter from Bengal, 6 September 1831, para 39). Further Reading: Bengal Army Service Records, IOR: L/MIL/10/21, 131-3, and no.
This Captain Smith prepared an illustrated diary of Indian views from 1828-33 and drew various panoramas of Indian cities, all now in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Rohatgi and Parlett: 207-10). On his return he was commended by the Surveyor General as ‘by far the best draughtsman I am acquainted with’, which may be one of the reasons he was selected to accompany as A. We learn more of his artistic talents from his art-loving admirer Lady Nugent in her . Smith, with me, and we projected a drawing of the line of march, which will be a treasure to me if he executes it according to my plan, and I have little doubt of its being quite perfect, by what I have seen of his drawings’ (v. In fact the entire group is earlier, some of them being painted on paper watermarked 1807. Smith’s view of Allahabad, for instance, focuses on a strange looking hybrid of a building, which is referred to by Lord Moira in his journal entry for 27 September 1814: ‘A mosque of rather elegant structure stands on the esplanade beyond the glacis. A drawing by Thomas Daniell dating from 1789 shows what the original structure looked like complete with cupolas and minarets and pointed Mughal arches on the model of Akbar’s mosque at Fatehpur Sikri. An alternative dating for Smith’s series of watercolours is 1822, when he was on his way to take up his post in Delhi (see below), but this seems unlikely in view of the watermarked date. There he was wounded – ‘I fear that I shall be sometime deprived of the very efficient services of Captain Smith of the Engineers who has unfortunately received a severe contusion on the left shoulder from a spent shot from a jingal’ (Lord Combermere's Dispatch 26 December 1825). Smith’s later work in India consists of topographical views in oils and is relatively well known (see Head 1981, Tillotson 1992).
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