Deconstructions, Image Management, Painting, Reviews, Travel

Deconstruction of Willaim Carpenter’s “Masjid Wazir Khan”

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Mosque of Wazir Ali Khan


Paintings gradually went out of business as Photography found it’s way into the modern and fast world. Photography is usually explained as a painting using light. Therefore, a strong bond always exist between them. No wonder I gaze and get lost in a painting so often. One such painting is the “Mosque of Wazir Ali Khan” by William Carpenter.


William Carpenter is a 19th century British artist and painter who travelled within India and painted many Indian scenes of that timeline using watercolour. He has contributed almost 280 paintings during his 7-8 years visit in India which was later purchased by Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


The Mosque of Wazir Khan or commonly known as Masjid Wazir Khan, is yet another Landmark that majestically stands in the city of Lahore. William’s art of this Mosque dates back to 1856 and is one of the perfect example of “power of scale” in a 2D composition.  The big entrance of the Mosque and its allied structures alone could have made the painting an interesting one. But William went on and included lot of people, cattle, carts to the foreground and so on. Hence the magnanimity and the composition shared in the picture is out of this world. You could easily imagine the size of the mosque in relation with the humans and other real-life structures portrayed in the art.


If you notice in the painting, the mosque is not placed at the middle which brings the dynamism into the frame. Adding to this, the bottom line of the mosque and the bottom frame line is not parallel. Because of this reason the front-right minaret appears to be tall than the front-left minaret. The carefully chosen pastel colours, mostly the yellow shade, adds more drama. I can’t relate to the intense thought-process that William was undergoing.


Few other points worth noting,

  • The detailed Arabic name carvings on the entrance walls
  • The flags on the right side which feeds the view
  • Few birds between the right side minarets and the main entrance
  • The trees on both the sides which makes a good starting point and end point in the frame and conveys the frame is part of a continuous view and not picture perfect frame and altogether makes the visual flow
  • If you think the rear-left minaret is missing, you might want to look harder. It shows the amount of concentration the artist had to make sure that even the slightest details were not missed


The copyright of the image is with © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


P.S. – I would be more than happy to know your views and deconstructions of this painting.


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Navanee Viswa

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