Company paintings of India

Different Strokes

Native artists were encouraged to paint images of Indian life which reflected the social fabric of the period.

By the late 18th century, the British emerged as the dominant power in India, encouraging middle-class young Englishmen to join the East India Company as civilians and soldiers. The newcomers were fascinated by the variegated landscape of the country, its magnificent monuments and the diversity of its people. They wanted to acquire pictures of their new environment, but not all of them could afford to buy the works of noted British artists engaged in portraying the scenic splendour of India and its exotic people. As a result, British residents and travellers started commissioning native artists to create paintings of their chosen subjects. They were keen to collect them as mementos and souvenirs for their friends and relatives in England. For the British, almost every aspect of life in India was worth sketching. Their favourite subjects, however, were historic monuments with their novel architecture, people of different classes in colourful costumes, festivals and rituals, crafts and occupations, different modes of transport, and nautch girls. Continue reading Company paintings of India

Indian women in British Indian Paintings

Legacy of Intimacy

One of the most popular artists of British India, Sir Charles D’Oyly was known for his perceptive delineation of Indian women in the 19th century.

British artists began arriving in India in the 1760s. They were the first to draw true-to-life pictures of the Indian panorama. Lured by the prospect of fame and fortune, most professional artists engaged themselves in making portraits of the sahibs and native princes or pictures of historical events of imperial interest. The amateur artists, on the other hand, applied their talents to depicting Indian people and their way of life. Some were very talented and their works were of a high standard. They had received training in drawing and water colour paintings, which formed an essential part of the liberal education in England those days. The professional artists in Calcutta gave drawing lessons to sahibs and memsahibs interested in art. Continue reading Indian women in British Indian Paintings

Paintings in the British Raj

By the late 18th century, the British emerged as the dominant power in India, encouraging middle-class young Englishmen to join the East India Company as civilians and soldiers. The newcomers were fascinated by the variegated landscape of the country, its magnificent monuments and the diversity of its people. They wanted to acquire pictures of their new environment, but not all of them could afford to buy the works of noted British artists engaged in portraying the scenic splendour of India and its exotic people. As a result, British residents and travellers started commissioning native artists to create paintings of their chosen subjects. They were keen to collect them as mementos and souvenirs for their friends and relatives in England. For the British, almost every aspect of life in India was worth sketching. Their favourite subjects, however, were historic monuments with their novel architecture, people of different classes in colourful costumes, festivals and rituals, crafts and occupations, different modes of transport, and nautch girls. Continue reading Paintings in the British Raj