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Robert L. Hardgrave jr

(b Antwerp, July 6, 1760; d Antwerp, Oct 10, 1824).

Flemish printmaker and painter. He pursued his early career in Europe as a marine painter, but political unrest and his own insecure position led him to seek his fortune in India. Residing in Calcutta from 1791 to 1804, Solvyns undertook the work for which he is best known, A Collection of Two Hundred and Fifty Coloured Etchings Descriptive of the Manners, Customs and Dresses of the Hindoos. After a limited printing in 1796, the collection was published by Solvyns in Calcutta in 1799 in 12 parts. The first of these, comprising 66 prints, depicts ‘the Hindoo Castes with their respective professions’, while the following sections portray servants, religious mendicants, forms of transportation, modes of smoking, musical instruments, and festivals. Solvyns approached his task as an ethnographer but, lacking the appeal of the picturesque which was then in vogue, the project proved a financial failure. On his return to Europe, Solvyns prepared new etchings from his drawings and produced a folio edition of 288 plates, ...