Friday, July 26, 2013



( KASHMIR PHOTOGRAPHS   by  Autar Mota )

Dr Percy Brown ( 1872-1955 ) And Muriel Talbot or Mrs Percy Brown( 1874-1943)

Dr Percy Brown  was a British scholar , Painter and Art Historian who  came to India and joined Royal Education Services under British Raj .  He was  born at Birmingham UK in 1872 and had Studied at local art school and Royal College of Art, ARCA..He did highly commendable  work as  Curator of Lahore Museum and principal of Well known Mayo College of Art  Lahore (1899-1909 ) . Later he joined as principal of *Government  College  of  Arts and Crafts  Calcutta . .He wrote some  monumental  books on Indian Art and  Architecture especially The Budhist Architecture. . Some of his books are:-
1        Indian Painting Under the Mughals A.D.. 1550 to A.D. 1750.
2        Indian Architecture (Buddhist and Hindu Period).
3        Indian Architecture: Islamic Period.
4        Primary Sources, Historical Collections: Picturesque Nepal.


 After his retirement  , Dr Percy Brown    settled in Kashmir and  After  the death of his wife Muriel or    Catherine in 1943 , he moved to  live in  a houseboat named Catherine  parked   near Jhelum Bund  close to  the then Srinagar Club . He died in 1955 and  lies buried inside Sheikh Bagh  Cemetery Amira  Kadal Srinagar  ( source  Book .. GRAVEYARDS IN KASHMIR by Eileen Hewson  ).

 In Kashmir , he remained in touch with  some  known  Artists and Painters who would visit him and seek his guidance .  Dr Percy Brown along with S H Raza together  acted like  Patrons and guides to  Artists from kashmir. One such landscape  painter ( Water Colours ) who would visit Dr Brown   was late D N Walli who  had himself  been a student of  *Government  College  of  Arts and Crafts  Calcutta. Dr T K walli son of late shri D N walli ( Artist ) informs ,

"Percy Brow spotted Dina Nath Walli in an art exhibition in Calcutta when he had the glimpses of his water colour landscapes of Kashmir. It was a love at first sight. Later, he became Walli's mentor and advised him to go back to the valley and continue with the difficult medium of transparent water colour landscapes. His association became a big moral booster for Walli, who later excelled in this medium of art and receiving world recognition also. Percy Brown inspired him to organize his first one-man show of his landscapes. The exhibition was held in 1950 at Neodow's Hotel Srinagar and was obviously inaugurated by Walli's mentor."
( Dr Percy Brown ( Left ) with late Shri D N walli Artist . For this rare photograph i remain indebted to Dr T K Walli son of  the Artist .)

Dr  Percy Brown  was a friend of Nehru and also held Gandhi ji in great  esteem. Quite often Dr Percy Brown would tell his visitors  that he  considered himself  an orientalist .Nehru called him  ‘Scholar Extraordinary ’.  

 Dr .Percy Brown was married to Muriel Talbot ( in 1909 ) also known as Catherine or Mrs Percy Brown.   Muriel was the daughter of  Col .Adelberl Cecil Talbot  resident of Kashmir from 1896 to 1900. Muriel’s  aristocrat  family is  connected with Earls of Shrewsbury and more distantly with the Dukes of Devonshire and the John Talbot in Henry VI Part I. .
Catherine or Muriel  was a poetess who had lived in Kashmir with her father  four more than four years .She wrote many poems on the life of kashmiris and beauty of Kashmir which she published in 1921 in a book Titled  CHENAR  LEAVES  from Cacutta after her marriage to Dr Percy Brown. The book was dedicated to her father col. Talbot .
I add five   poems from this book ………..

 PANDITANIS ( Kashmir Pandit women )

With graceful step, erect and slow
Adown the stone-built, broken stair

The panditanis daily go
And on their heads held high they bear

Bright vessels, which they stooping fill
Beneath the bridge's wooden pier:

In pools of clouded amber still
Which gurgle deep and glowing here.

Their movements of unconscious grace
Glint in the Jhelum's flowing stream

Where rich hues shimmering interlace
And in the glancing ripples gleam,

Then with their slender rounded arms
They poise the shining lotus high,

Or bashful, with half feigned alarms
Draw close their veils with gesture shy.



Your eyes sweet Pretsi ! your soft, earnest eyes

And oval, girlish face will haunting float
Before me still — thus seated in your boat

With dusky hair, in braids Madonna-wise,
The amulet which on your bosom lies,

Those coral beads around your slender throat
With paddle poised : a most enchanting note

For artist's canvas, which he well might

The picture's in my heart! but Pretsi 's shy
And with a timid grace and bashful sigh

Bends to her task, the boat is passing, yet
She turns and glances back and throws me

A lotus bud she'd fastened in her hair
And smiles ; Ah Pretsi ! would I could forget.


Kashmir's soul-flower! thou most sacred
What wondrous treasure lies within thy
Deep hidden down amidst that rosy gloom
Thy petals as its guardians do their part.
Om mani padmi hum*
Ah! how can I describe thy beauty rare
To those who have not seen thy gracious
Serene, majestic, yet pulsating there
With love thy full blown petals roseate warm.
Om mani padmi hum.
It desecration seems to pry or gaze
With curious eye upon that calyx gold,
Which tremulous yet glowing doth amaze
Us by the jewelled beauty we behold :
Om mani padmi hum.

♦A Buddhist mantra meaning — "The Jewel of the Flower
of the Lotus."


(A Mughal Garden on the Dal Lake)
Shalimar! Shalimar!

A rythmic sound in thy name rings
A dreamy cadence from afar

Within those syllables which sings

To us of love and joyous days
Of Lalla Rukh! of pleasure feast!
Of fountains clear whose glitt'ring sprays
Drawn from the snows have never ceased

To cast their spell on all who gaze

Upon this handiwork of love
Eeared in Jehangir's proudest days

Homage for Nur Mahal to prove.

For his fair Queen he built these courts
With porphyry pillars smooth and black

Whose grandeur still expresses thoughts
For her that should no beauty lack.

The roses show 'ring o'er these walls
Still fondly whisper love lurks here

And still he beckoning to us calls
By yon Dai's shores in fair Kashmir.

Bich web of woven dreams ! A Kashmir shawl,
Its warp and woof of silky, pliant hair
From choice pashmina goats, beyond the wall
Of far Himalaya brought, with toil and care,
Then dyed in all the subtlest hues which art
For eastern looms could cunningly devise.
And spun in threads so fine, the great world's mart
Of patient skill can show no fairer prize.
The pattern forms methinks a mystic shape
In Jhelum 's windings, or in ' ' tree of life ' ' :
Such blended colours artists' palettes ape
Closer than weaver's shuttle plying strife.

The art is lost! The spirit of this age
In love's laborious crafts will not engage. 

Both Dr Percy Brown and his wife Muriel had enormous love and fascination for kashmir . Infact both were sincere well wishers of kashmiris . But does anybody remember  them in kashmir ? I have my doubts .
I conclude this post with some lines from a Gazal of  Urdu poet Ali Sardar Jafri...

Me Jahaan Tum Ko Bulaataa Huun Vahaan Tak Aao
Meri Nazaron Se Guzar Kar Dil-O-Jaan Tak Aao
Phir Ye Dekho Ki Zamaane Ki Havaa Hai Kaisee
Saath Mere Mere Firdaus-E-Javaan Tak Aao
Phuul Ke Gird Phiro Baag Mein Maanind-e-Naseem
Misl-e-Paravaanaa Kisi Sham-E-Tapaan Tak Aao
Lo Vo Sadiyon Ke Jahannum Ki Hadein Khatm Huyee
Ab Hai Firdaus Hi Firdaus Jahaan Tak Aao
Chhod Kar Vaham-O-Gumaan Husn-E-Yahqeen Tak Pahuncho
Par Yaqeen Se Bhi Kabhi Vaham-O-Gumaan Tak Aao

 ( Autar Mota ) )

* Rabindranath Tagore stayed here for months and made approx 130 paintings, which were exhibited in the college gallery in 1932. Gurudev ’s brother  Abanindranath Tagore was the Vice-Principal of the college, who  worked towards developing an Indian style of Art, which gave birth to the Bengal school of art,. Notable alumni of this institute include Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Sashi Kumar Hesh,Atul Bose, Debi Prasad Roychoudhuri, Gopal Ghosh, Mukul Dey, Chintamoni Kar, Satyen Ghoshal, Somnath Hore, Rajen Tarafdar, Jainul Abedin, Rananayan Dutta, Hemen Majumdar, Haren Das, Shanu Lahiri, [3] Ganesh Pyne, Ganesh Haloi, Sunil Das, Badhan Das, Samir Mondal, Jogen Chowdhury, Sudip Roy, Pulak Biswas, Niranjan Pradhan & Mrinal Kanti Ray and  Suddhasattwa Basu.  Kashmir’s Noted landscape  Painter   D N Walli has  also been a student  of this college .

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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  1. Hi,

    Why don't you share that photograph of Dr Brown on the Wikipedia page at ?

    That will be of great help! :)

  2. I heard sir Perry brown story from my father and we still had his books and Antiques.. Which he gifted to my grand father...


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