Writing out the Treaty of Peace. Suffaid Sung, Gundumuck


In the fall of 1878, The Illustrated London News dispatched the Scottish artist William Simpson (1823–99) to Afghanistan in anticipation of a conflict between Britain and Afghan tribal leaders. The British were concerned about growing Russian influence in the region and a possible Russian threat to British India. Fighting broke out in November 1878, precipitating what became known as the Second Afghan War (1878–80). Simpson documented the conflict, but he was also interested in people he encountered and places he visited. This sketch by Simpson, dated May 26, 1879, shows the British envoy, Major Cavagnari, and Bakhtiar Khan writing out the Treaty of Gandamak, the treaty of peace concluded between the British government and Muhammad Yakub Khan, Amir of Afghanistan. Bakhtiar Khan was Cavagnari’s agent in negotiating the treaty, which was signed on the same day that the drawing was made. The drawing is from the Anne S.K. Brown Military Collection at the Brown University Library.

Last updated: September 30, 2016