Brownrigg Ballasis was born in Cumbria to a military family and first went to India as a young East India Company employee before later being given command of the Gujarat Provincial Battalion.
He was also an artist of some merit and sketches from his albums showing eyewitness views of military engagements and local scenes now appear occasionally on the market. One depicting the siege of Multan, for example, made £460 at Holloways in June 2017.
Housed with care
The three works at the Cumbria auction that closed on June 28 came from a militaria collector who had bought a group of works from the former housekeeper of the Brownrigg Bellasis family, who in turn had received them as a present. The pictures were in good condition, having been framed and looked after.
Attracting the strongest bidding among the three was a 13 x 17in (33 x 43cm) watercolour titled Jeejuree – presumably a reference to the subject depicting the Khandoba temple of Jejuri. Estimated at £300-400, it was bid to £1080 and sold to a dealer who was buying for a client.
The other two also depicted important landmarks. A watercolour of the temple at Bhulishisar, near Yusut, fetched £580 against a £300-400 estimate and sold to a private collector.
A 10 x 17in (25 x 43cm) watercolour depicted Dariya Khan’s tomb at Amedabad in Gujarat, showing the damage after the earthquake in 1819. It also sold above the same estimate at £490 and was bought by a campaign furniture specialist in South Africa.
According to the auction house, Brownrigg Bellasis’ paintings have featured in important books on campaign furniture and have been sought after by collectors in that area ever since.