In Collaboration With Bruce Anderson

In an era before cameras and photography, administrators, officials and visitors to the East India Company area of operations would buy these paintings to bring back and show their friends and relatives. They tended to be of fairly mundane subjects - but for a pre-multicultural Britain anything and everything from India, the Spice Islands or China was going to be exotic! The wealthier nabobs might even hire their own artist to paint scenes from their house and work or even to take on holiday with them to paint the famous sites and scenes. Most of the paintings were done as watercolours with use of linear perspective and shading. Each trading post tended to have their own idiosyncratic style which drew heavily on local customs and traditions. Thomas Metcalfe (the resident in Delhi) commissioned the artist Mazhar Ali Khan to paint everyday scenes to give to his daughter who would shortly be rejoining him in India. They are painted on mica. Compare these with the Hong Kong Company Paintings on rice paper.

Ayah and Baby Domestic Ironing Shirts
Domestic Polishing Boots Scribe
Domestic Polishing Boots
Water Bearer Washer
Servant Cook
Groom Domestic
Musician Beater
Bearer Servant
Porter Sweeper

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by Stephen Luscombe