The majestic Taj Mahal beckons in this extraordinary complex and detailed gouache painting by the prolific and influential American science fiction genre illustrator Chesley Bonestell. This dates to 1955 and while it represents a departure from the artist’s space art genre work, it perhaps rates as one of Bonestell’s finest paintings. The detail is so intricate it would appear to have been painted with a feather. Nicely framed under glass in a vintage, likely original to the painting, mid-century aesthetic ornate frame.
Commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal is considered “The Jewel of Muslim Art” and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983. Described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time”, the site attracts 7–8 million visitors a year.
A short biography of the artist, courtesy of Bonestell.com:
Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986) was an American pioneer of space art who helped popularize manned space travel. He is well known for his cover art for science fiction magazines, including Astounding Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as well as many books such as The Conquest of Space, The Exploration of Mars, and Beyond the Solar System in collaboration with several authors well known in the field of space exploration.
Bonestell’s work also includes architectural paintings, scientific illustrations, and special effects matte paintings for films such as Destination Moon (1950), When Worlds Collide (1951), and War of the Worlds (1953). On June 11, 1986, while working on a painting, he passed away at his home in Carmel, California.
Bonestell received a bronze medal from the British Interplanetary Society, a Special Achievement Hugo Award, and was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame and the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists’ Chesley Award for achievement in science fiction and fantasy art is named for him, and a crater on Mars and asteroid 3129 Bonestell are also named in his honor.