Mapping the ‘Other’: Changing representation of Europeans from Mughal to Company School Paintings

Soujit Das,  Indian Institute of  Technology Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India


Ila Gupta, Indian Institute of  Technology Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India

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The presence of the European race was extensively documented during the imperial Mughal era. Probably for the first time in pictorial history of India, a conscious attempt was made to portray the life and customs of the ‘other’ race. The early delegations of missionaries, ambassadors, traders, travelers etc. to the Mughal court, provided an acatalectic image of the west and also exposed the Mughals to the larger cultural forces of Christianity. Although Mughal emperors maintained socio-political amity with the franks but seldom we could map tendencies of subjugation of the ‘other’ race. The primary basis of alienation was utterly ethnic whereas the secondary basis was strictly religious/cultural/ethical. The images in question do speak about a certain occidentalist construction. By the mid 18th century the whole equation gets inverted as we enter into the arena of power transfer. The same ‘other’ now assumes the role of the ruler/patron. The same native hand of the painters, separated by the scope of time started producing images where the ‘other’ enjoyed a superior position. The paper attempts to look at selective artistic production from the Mughal atelier and Company School, examining the role of patronization. It also attempts to map the changing power relations crucial to the artistic production.

[Key Words: Company School, European, Mughal, Other, Occidentalism]

  1. Introduction

History had manifested itself through conquests and conflicts and certainly the western colonial powers were one of its illustrious contributors. It is in this process of acquiring control over the foreign land which has bestowed them with much antipathy from the natives. It is from the age of exploration that we come into this modern settlement of oppressor- suppressed relation. The conception surrounding a Westerner was not foreign, at least in India. For several centuries, people of non-native origin have come and settled: their cultures absorbed to such an extent that they acquired the identity of natives. When the sea voyages of Europe finally managed to explore the exotic land and to an extent gained prominent foothold in this country, then probably the new settlements were not of a very generous nature. Their main purpose was to exploit the riches of the country and convert natives into Christians, which gradually paved way to coerced colonial establishments beside trade (Pearson, 2008).

Prior to the rediscovery of India in 1498 A.D., the presence of the Europeans in medieval India was negligible. Ancient India’s connection with the western world was disrupted with the advent of the Islamic powers. The Sultanate rulers themselves hailed from different foreign lands. It was their cultural policies and prolonged exposure in the land, which enabled them to gain a position of the insider, although they maintained their Islamic baggage. It was with the Mughals, who laid the foundations of a modern nation and a sovereign state. The arrival of the Mughals was more or less contemporary with the arrival of the Portuguese. It was during the Mughal era when for the first time, a conscious attempt was made to document the life and custom of the Europeans. The diplomatic exchanges and religious missions presented an acatalectic image of the ‘other’. The growing tendency of portrayal of the Europeans somehow leaves an impression of subjugation of the ‘other’. The portrayals came as an acceptance of the ‘other’ but at many instances assaulted their very presence.

The whole equation gets inverted by the second quarter of 18th century, with the decline of Mughal Empire. The rise of various East India Companies was not at all an abrupt incident rather they made use of the internal conflicts to establish their supremacy. The artistic production also witnessed a major shift as the new patronage came up with new images. Here the same ‘other’ assumes the power of a ruler/patron. Although the same native artists were engaged in such production, but the formal constructs of the image had transformed drastically. Thus the image of the European points out to the transition from Mughal to Company school images.

  1. The ‘Other’ in Mughal India

By mid 16th century when the Portuguese followed by the Dutch, Danish, British & French arrived and settled in considerable numbers then the ‘sense of otherness’ became much stronger. The first basis of alienation was rather racial and the second basis was utterly religious/cultural/ethical. It is regardless to mention that the propagation of new religious order had no scope of prosperity under Islam. In the process of gaining foothold, the early Portuguese inflicted their wrath on some Hindu domains by demolishing temples and imposing their own laws of worship. But gradually this aggression was countered by the arrival of other European forces who proposed amicable policies of trade and rule. Most of these western powers were constantly in conflict with each other. They had their internal conflicts over acquiring the trade monopoly and also over religious affiliations of Catholicism and Protestantism.

Prior to the Mughals, the Sultanate patronization brought changes in the western Indian manuscript tradition but the representations of Europeans or white bodies are rare. The narratives were so self- contained that the pictorial space could not accommodate foreign characters. Only at few rare occasions we could spot a distinct central Asian figure, identified by the attires- making appearances (Coomarswamy, 2003). The representation of the early Europeans in the Mughal court paintings probably came as a mode of acceptance. Their appearance was static because the painter did not cater beyond acknowledging them just as an alien race. The very appearance or position is highlighted with an intension to be the grain in the eye. It was in the process of copying early European souvenirs and image sources (e.g. Polyglot Bible) where tangible realism of forms lured the artists. During such process of amalgamation, many trivial yet important signs were created which we often tend to overlook. The foreign body now becomes the tool to project the hierarchy. It was in a sense taming the ‘other’ if not physically but psychologically through the picture making process. Europeans were projected, not only as cultural threats but it was politically important to maintain the religious supremacy of Islam.

I will rather delve into the opinion that the transformation or the attempt of rendering European figures or motifs was not at all a simple gesture of cultural symbiosis. There was a steady involvement in the de-contextualization, as the artist/painter in question was utterly ignorant of the context of illustrated reference at the first place. The role of the Islamic patron was crucial and important. A painter in the atelier was supposed to cater the patron’s demand or in a sense magnify his doctrine rather than celebrating the shock of the new idiom. I guess subjugating the ‘other’ and for that matter even Christianity was an act of valor and heroic.

The early attempt to document European life was through copying European/Christian imageries. The Portuguese Jesuit missions had introduced Christian religious icons and other European works to the court of Akbar (Bailey, 1999). Later through European ambassadors, travelers and merchants the Mughal court started receiving European prints, paintings, textiles, ceramics and other souvenirs as gifts. The growing demand of such gifts at the Mughal court paved way to newer visual vocabulary. At first, the European images were faithfully copied by the Mughal artist- often transporting the visual to Mughal surroundings. Apart from the copied sources, the Europeans started making their presence felt in the historic narrative imagery (e.g. Akbarnama, Jahangirnama, Padshahnama etc.). It is interesting to witness that in none of the fictional narratives (e.g. Hamzanama, Tutinama, Anwar-i-Suhaili, Razmnama etc) the white body makes an appearance. The iconography of all these European figures in question was created from personal experience as well as from the borrowed European sources.

2.1 Presence of the ‘other’ in the Art of the Book                                                                                                          

The depiction of European in the official chronicles does indicate their social position. These secular images do record the Europeans in broadly two categories. Firstly their presence is acknowledged as an ordinary westerner and secondly, specific people find their mention in the chronicle which marks important events in history. Here I would like to draw attention to few folio pages from Akbarnama, where actual events are depicted as well as constructed. The first image by Manohar deals with a general court scene where ‘Akbar receives news of the victory at Gogunda’ (Plate no 1). Here a European noble could be located at the bottom left corner of the frame along the central margin. He appears in his distinct attire conversing with another courtier within the inner courtyard. It certainly acknowledges the presence of the European inside the court as an onlooker. The figure in question was probably a dignitary but not of special importance. The sheer placement of the figure confirms to this speculation (Fischer, 2007). The second image confirms to another shift. Here the image functions more as a document. The picture showcases Ibadatkhana (Ibadatkhana was already formed in 1575 A.D., much before the Jesuit’s arrival), with the presence of Portuguese missionaries (Plate no 2). This image refers to a historic event of the first mission to Akbar’s court. The account clearly mentions the appearance of Father Rudolf Aquaviva (an Italian aristocrat) and Francis Henriquez (a Persian convert and Interpreter). These two figures with similar cassock and headgears are seen in close proximity as opposed to the previous picture. The position here was not a constructed one, because Badauni and Abul Fazl mentioned in their works – that there was a certain preference for the Jesuits in Akbar’s court. Abul Fazl further emphasized that Akbar liked the ‘Nazarene Sages’ and treated them with great courtesy (Fazl, 1907). The third picture which demands attention here reconstructs a historical past. ‘The death of Sultan Bahadur near Diu against the Portuguese in 1537 A.D.’ (Plate no 3) does not directly concern the Mughal affair. It was in 1535 A.D. when Humayun once confronted Sultan Bahadur in which Humayun had to retreat (Banerjee, 1938) Politically speaking, the death of Sultan Bahadur was a kind of assurance for the Mughal, where in a sense a common enemy was defeated. The image portrays an overpowering Portuguese racial presence engaged at war. It definitely points out that they were already accepted as a military class. The presence of the defeated Sultan and his clan points out the supremacy of the ‘other’.

In Jahangirnama and Padshahnama too, we come across similar representations of eminent as well as common Europeans. Thomas Roe the English ambassador from the court of James I, enjoyed royal hospitality at the court of Jahangir and witnessed many courtly activities from 1615-1618 A.D. In one of the pages of Jahangirnama we find the presence of Sir Thomas Roe. ‘Jahangir investing a courtier with a robe of honour watched by Sir Thomas Roe-1615’ (Plate no 4) shows Roe in a red dress: prominent enough to catch the viewer’s attention. He was shown amidst other courtiers following the event from proximity. To highlight his religious origin or for that matter his creed, the artist placed a book (presumably a holy bible) in his hand. This specific mean of identification tends to create an iconographical scheme to locate the ‘whites’. Father Jerome Xavier of third Jesuit Mission of 1595A.D. also finds his mention in the illustrations of Jahangirnama. The father not only stayed at the court of Akbar but also undertook major translation projects (Camps, 2000). The fathers were generally portrayed wearing blue cassocks and hats while holding a rosary and a bible in their hands. Such iconographic schema was repeated in many images, in order to alienate the figures from the crowd by highlighting their ethnic origin.

The artistic production of Jahangir’s time was full of allegorical meanings. During his reign the painter’s introduced the halo behind the emperor’s head. The halo irrespective of cultures attributes divinity or sainthood. An album leaf from the St. Petersburg album shows ‘Jahangir preferring a Sufi sheikh to kings” (Plate no 5): Painted by Bichitr during 1615-18 A.D. Being a self boisterous king, Jahangir always desired to rule over other powers. For him the actual glory was often replaced or surpassed by the imagined one. In the above mentioned picture the allegory comes alive. The painting serves a dual purpose. It historically emphasizes and records Jahangir’s special interest in Sufi mysticism and doctrine. In the above painting except the Sufi sage three other figures appear in great prominence. An image of an Ottoman king and James I of England appears in the left lower foreground along with an unidentified courtier (many scholars identify him as Bichtr) (Okada, 1992). James I was an imagined figure for Jahangir as both never met in history. The knowledge about England must have been very comprehensive for Jahangir as he encountered ample number of Englishmen before the arrival of the official ambassador. (Foster, 1933: Oaten, 2010)

The direct portrayal of subjugated European is further illustrated in the Padshahnama folio: ‘Europeans are shown bringing gifts for Shahjahan’ (Plate no 6). The event corresponds to a special date in the court which was 31st July, 1633 A.D. (Irvine, 1902). This was the date when the Portuguese captives of Hooghly were brought before the Emperor in Agra. The illustration places the group of six Europeans in the extreme left foreground. They appear in their distinct attire holding several gifts in hand. Here one must draw special attention to their placement beyond the extreme fence. Here, they no more enjoy the privilege or status of an insider or for that matter the status of foreign dignitary. On the extreme left foreground of this symmetrically arranged composition, we come across four royal mace bearers or guards. The official records state that nearly four thousand Portuguese men, women and children were taken as captives and were marched to Agra. Many passed out in the journey and the rest upon their arrival were distributed among the Amirs and harems. (Manrique, 1927) Some accepted conversion while others were tortured in prison.

       2.2 Portraying the General Europeans

The early European community comprised of travelers, missionaries, sailors, traders and ambassadors but their first impression to the natives was not very amiable. Their attire and food habit immediately separated them from the native. In one of the records we find an exotic description of the white race. It records as the following-

‘A race of very white and beautiful people who wear boots and hats of iron and never stop in any place. They eat a sort of white stone and drink blood’ (Cipolla, 1970).

Rather than emphasizing information about their existence, their portrayal in Mughal court paintings has an essentially symbolic nature, which renders them more anthropologically. Such images served dual purposes. The non familiar is prone to exploitation thus functions as an easy tool to legitimize all restricted behavior. They more or less fit into the criteria of ‘Fantasy Excursions’. (Creighton, 1995) The European in general especially Portuguese find their repeated mention in the Mughal imagery. At times they became the prototype for all the other Europeans.

An early half bust portrait from 1600 A.D. shows a European male reading a letter (Plate no 7). As far as the fashion was concerned this figure confirms to the noble class. Extreme detail of richly brocaded collar and feathered hat completes the imagination. The next portraits decipher a different idea about the race (Plate no 8 & 9). Two similar compositions depict European Merchant class men in Indian landscape. Confirmation of Indian landscape comes from the portrayal of typical Hindu architectures at distance. The first image was often thought to be of Henri IV of France (ruled 1589-1610 A.D.) or of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (ruled 1519-58 A.D.). While the second portrait was thought to be that of Englishman Sir Thomas Roe- the official ambassador to Jahangir’s Court. But it seems none of them were modeled after an iconic figure. They are more likely to be imagined portraits of ‘European Sea Captain or Men of considerable military rank’.

By Jahangir’s time the ‘others’ or the ‘firangis’, particularly the Portuguese would have been a familiar sight at the court, arriving as traders and mercenaries, craftsmen and adventurers. A letter sent from Agra in 1610 A.D. by William finch to the East India Company mentions in passing-‘French Soldiers, a Dutch engineer and a Venetian merchant with his sonne’, giving a flavor of the cosmopolitan at the court (Foster, 1985). Over their long residence in India the Portuguese has adapted their dress to the demands of the climate, retaining their usual cloaks and doublets (though the materials would have been lighter in the hot season), but replacing tight knee breeches and hose with loose trousers gathered in at the ankle for coolness and protection against mosquitoes. (Crowther, 1961) Such costumes were often depicted in Mughal painting from 1590 A.D. (Rogers, 1993).

  1. Mughal to Company patrons: Changing positions of the ‘other’

By the dawn of 18th century, the European East India Companies succeeded in establishing their authority at different regions of India. The disintegration of a decaying central empire was immediately exploited by the ‘others’. So far, they found their visual mention in several paintings of Indian courts but as a subordinate race. The pictorial portrayal of the Europeans in pre-company court paintings, alienated them as an outer class of ‘white skinned’ people. It was more or less a constant jostle between the criteria regarding acceptance and rejection of the ‘other’. Process of amalgamation or alienation, which started few centuries back, manifested itself in 18th century through the transfer of power. The new white elite were not essentially an abrupt offspring, rather their success laid within the failure of an empire/nation.

‘Company Painting’ as a genre, does not only comply with a particular race or patronization. At first, the Europeans identified themselves as foreigners and accepted their position in an alien society. What started with their trade was a transformation of economy and thus many of the disintegrated and self proclaimed free-states came up as new centers of power. The Portuguese and Dutch power by mid 18th century was considerably subsided. The new business class was the British and French, who eventually rose to prominence and became the major power house surpassing all its rivals. The colonial patronage in the field of arts started much later in the mid 18th century. These patrons had no interest in the Indian visual tradition; coming from a different world, they found Indian art beyond their comprehension and often viewed it scornfully (Bhattacharya, 2007). Such new demand instigated artists to cater to the new taste. The makers of Company paintings were mostly painters who had previously found employment at the sub-imperial Mughal Courts and other provincial courts of India. However by late 1770s the influx of westerners either resident in or passing through British ruled India provided them with a new kind of clientele. Local artists frequently adapted both their subject matter and their stylistic conventions to suit this new market.

3.1 Company paintings- The reversed gaze

One of the principal criteria for the identification of a ‘Company Painting’ is the degree to which it objectively observes the Indian scene in all its aspects, including natural history and human society (Archer, 1992). Until mid 18th century, the foreigners so far appeared to be timid entities at least in their pictorial presence. The collapse of the strong framework at Delhi gave birth to series of events by which the emergence of the non natives came as a shock. My concern here is to trace the motifs of insult to the natives, where the western colonial hierarchy comes into play. The Europeans, in order to serve their own trade interests started negotiating with the local rulers of several states for gaining more administrative powers. The new economy promised wealth which lured many of the rulers. The patterns of all stately activities were influenced and affected under foreign dominion. Thus Company Painting was not really a regional art, rather the mode of production was national, catering to international demand. The several centres of art do emerged with their stylistic individuality but the purpose was by and large identical. As major centres of artistic activity and production- Madras, Patna, Oudh, Calcutta, Murshidabad, Delhi, Agra, Tanjavur, Trichi etc came up (Branfoot, 2007). When we speak about the role of patronage in company paintings, the general mistake that we tend to make is that- in every foreigner we tend to locate a potential patron. Patronage comes with authority and the men who commissioned such images were of some power. When we discuss the images in their detail, we should remain cautious that the very image was produced by a native artist who was essentially a representative of the colonized land. Although the artists were Indian, the themes were catering to European eye, thus the aesthetic conventions mediate between both. It is to be mentioned here that by mid 18th century the socio- political situation had changed. At different places the relationship between the Europeans and the natives were that of the ruler and the ruled.

The company and its officials who became the main patron of the distressed court painters created an image of a superior self. The official status not only highlighted their own image rather uplifted the image of their nation. In an early portrait of ‘Dr. Fullerton of Rosemount’, executed by Dipchand in 1765 A.D. (Plate no-10), the European position in18th century gets prominent. Dr. Fullerton was a Scottish surgeon employed by the British East India Company. He was the second surgeon of Calcutta and commissioned several pictures of Indian themes. Here he appears in the middle of an open terrace against the vast expanse of the blue sky smoking Huqqa. The scene depicted here is that of leisure as the scattered objects on the sides of the carpet suggests. The attendants of distinct Indian nature highlight the hierarchy at play. Fullerton appears with his boots on the carpet leaning against a bolster. His image is not that of an indifferent ruler of any sub-imperial Indian court of 18th century. He definitely carries his own air of power and authority.

Another image from 1765-70 A.D. of a ‘European by a River’ (Plate no-11) from Murshidabad confirms to similar tendency. The landscape by now got a new meaning in the composition. European demand had coerced native artists to learn the basic principles of atmospheric light and perspective distance. Here the European officer was shown standing on the bank of a river (Bhagirathi?) watching over the uninhabited stretch of land. He appears in his official attire with a sword attached to his waist band. So far in the Imperial Mughal idiom, representation of European ambassadors or aristocrat never depicted any arms (except battle scenes), but here it becomes the emblem of authority. Interestingly a bare legged native boy in European attire stands just behind the officer. He plays no role directly but his presence elevates the position of the other figure in the frame.

Another image from Madras executed around 1785 A.D. shows a ‘French Officer handing his Manservant his hat’ (Plate no-12). Here the suggestion of the landscape is ambiguous. It seems like that the event is taking place in an open meadow but the presence of the table and the very act transports our imagination to an interior space. Here also the presence of the manservant uplifts the social position of the non native elite. The new figure of the European generally develops an iconographic scheme of portrayal. Most of them appear in their respective official dress, flaunting their hat or Judge’s wig to emphasize their position, along with their emblems of authority such as staff or sword. In all these images the presences of the attendant indicate to a single tendency of dominance.

3.2 The image of the native

India in the eyes of the Europeans was a transformed commodity. Dramatic transformation of these traditional societies was in the material sphere, affecting not only their economic structures but also their social behaviour and modes of thinking (Mitter, 1994). Indian situations were intentionally and unintentionally internalized by the European masters. But we must also examine the causes which inspired the native artist to switch patron and mode of working in order to secure livelihood. The sub imperial courts by mid 18th century were getting familiar with the European oil paintings and a number of European artists were already present within India. At the first place these European artists, especially British artists who could not excel in their own country was seeking fortune in this new land. The new image and realistic treatment caught the eye of the Indian patrons thus the native artists started migrating to different centres in search of a new patrons. This very act of migration does justify the position of the Westerners. The painter in question already had an idea of a superior power in existence. It was part choice, part compulsion for the artists.

There was a certain demand which grew from the European curiosity. The native artists working under the British Patronage could be even read as substitutes. The growing demands for Indian scenes were supplied by newly arrived English artists at first. But for the general European of non- elite descent, the desire of patronage was strong but they could not afford paintings of the European artists. Here the native artists came to the rescue. The Europeans wanted pictures of Indian scenes and natives either to satisfy their own curiosity or to return home with it to show off the exotic land with its strange people a quaint customs to their families and friends (Pal, 1990). The new European class as bearers and fathers of a new economy/growth not only patronized arts and stabilized their position rather they created new classes within the native society. The immediate need of a subordinate insider who would be able to assist on several works generated various employments. The new classes include ‘Chaprasis’ and ‘Ayahs’ who cater to the daily need of the new white patron (Plate no 13 & 14). An image from Patna executed on Mica shows a person engaged in the job of ironing clothes (Plate no-15). This category of labor was not identified before. The very habit of ironing came with the European elite. The schematic appearance never mattered to the common natives. Again in another mid 19th century mica image a ‘Man Servant’ was shown taking a dog for a stroll (Plate no-16). The new elite came with new habits which were totally alien to the native habits. The dog being a pet demands care and love of his own master but appointing a servant for the creature flaunts the wealth and intension of the superior. The image of India which lingered within the minds of the Europeans was essentially a self constructed one. The ethnographical drawings depicted men and their wives with much awe and wonder (Plate no-17). The native land was viewed under medieval light where superstition and so called acts of barbarism existed. The conflict of the self proclaimed civilized west with the uncivilized India manifested itself in several illustrations of such nature. One such illustration executed in Calcutta around 1800 A.D. recalls an event of 3rd march 1796 A.D., Fatehpur where the ‘Sheep eaters’ were shown (Plate no-18). The detailed illustration shows how the ascetic group near Fatehpur reaped a sheep empty handed and then drank its blood. How they consumed raw meat straight from the kill and etc.

There was an interesting memoir of Flemish engraver/illustrator Balthazer Solvyns which informs us about newly segregated zones of Calcutta–

‘Each nation has its particular quarter; so we have the English quarter, the Portuguese quarter etc. That which is inhabited by the Natives, who whether they are originally Hindoos or Mussulmans, differs from all the others by their complexion which is as dark as the Caffries, is called the Black Town. No European is to be seen there, as the construction of their houses is entirely different from ours’.

It is to be understood from such passages that the European class was already functioning on a racial plane. The first identification was not done through heterogeneous segregation rather the natives were seen as a homogeneous whole. The idea of the Black town was gradually shaping itself in the European minds. Speaking about the mode of operation I must clarify that though we tend to see ample examples of exotic behavior based on the English taste but the underlying factors at many centres still owed a great deal to the decayed Mughal courts. The growing interest in Indian religions also confirms to the methods of seclusion. At least the South Indian centres were producing thousands of images of the Hindu deities to mainly cater the French Capuchin and Jesuit Missionaries on the Coromandel Coast. It certainly broke the centuries old misconception about Hindu deities in the western world but somehow commoditized it (Mitter, 1977). The essential image of veneration thus loses its divinity, gets multiplied for consumption, where the only intension is to provide visual treat to a non familiar eye.

The pictorial racial demarcation process, developed as early as in second decade of 18th century in Madras with Fort St. George at its prime centre of patronage. Tanjore, Malabar or Coorg were no less in such competition. The northern and eastern India situation was slightly different. Predominantly English in character- the company ventured into new representational arenas. It is to be mentioned here that except Calcutta, all the major seats of Company School Painting were once under direct or indirect patronage of the Mughals. Oudh, Faizabad, Agra, Delhi, Patna, Varanasi, Murshidabad etc., every such centre witnessed the transformation from close quarters. The pattern of such images thus slightly differs from that of the other centres. The superficial English packaging of Indian subject was common to all centres. Through trade numerous articles of various natures were making their entry into aristocratic households. The role reversal started gradually with the steady influx of Europeans. Within this process of transformation and commoditization, Company Painting has emerged as a major vantage point in Indian pictorial history, mapping the rise of the ‘other’.

  1. Conclusion

The portrayal of Europeans in Mughal painting could never assume a superior position. Their portrayal not only acknowledged their presence in the Mughal society but also accepted them as a foreign race. The socio-cultural differences were indeed prominent to an extent that it lured the artist to portray the exotic and the unfamiliar. The subjugation of the ‘other’ race was subtle but evident, as often they were portrayed in isolation. The anthropological renderings allowed the Mughal artist to play with their fantasy often switching their modes from real to the unreal. There was also a steady attempt of Indianization of the figures in question, which in other sense was a gesture to establish the dominant cultural force. By the scope of time, with the fall of Mughal Empire, the Europeans came into power and assumed the role of patron/ruler. In this process of power transfer the pictorial constructs were changed where the assault was reversed. Although the same native artists were at work but the native subjects now appear as objects of alienation. The natives became the new markers of exotica. The anthropological drawings and isolated compositions slowly started to project the natives in a derogatory manner. This process somehow helped the westerners to gain a superior position- a position of the superior ‘other’.


List of Plates

  1. Akbar receives news of the victory at Gogunda, Folio from Akbarnama, painted by Manohar around 1596-1600 A.D., Freer and Sackler Gallery, Accession No: F1960:28
  2. Jesuit Priests Rudolf Aquaviva and Francis Henriquez taking part in the debate of Ibadatkhana, Folio from Akbarnama, painted by Narsingh in 1600-1603, Chester Beatty Library, Accession No: In 03:263
  3. Death of Sultan Bahadur in front of Diu against the Portuguese in 1537 A.D., Folio from Akbarnama, painted in last quarter of 16th British Library. Accession No: Or. 12988
  4. Jahangir investing a courtier watched by Sir Thomas Roe in 1612 A.D., painted in 1615 A.D., British Museum, Accession No: 1933,0610,0.1
  5. Jahangir preferring a Sufi Sheikh to Kings, Folio from St. Petersburg Album, painted by Bichtr around 1615-18 A.D. Freer and Sackler Gallery, Accession No: F1942:15a
  6. European bringing gifts to Shahjahan in 1633 A.D. Folio from Padshahnama painted around 1650 A.D. Windsor Castle Library Royal Collections, Accession No: RCIN 1005025.t
  7. European reading a letter, Detail from a leaf containing four panels, painted in 1600, British Museum, 1600 A.D. Accession No:1974,06170.9.26
  8. Portrait of an European, painted in 1605 A.D., Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No:386-1914
  9. Portrait of an European, painted in 1610 A.D., Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: 9-1913
  10. Portrait of a Company Official Dr. Fullerton, painted by Dip Chand around 1760-64 A.D. Murshidabad School. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: 33-1912
  11. European by a river, painted around 1765-70 A.D. Murshidabad School. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: 16-1955
  12. A French officer handing his manservant his hat, painted in 1785 at Madras, Folio from Boileau Album. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: 75:11-1954
  13. Portrait of a Chaprasi, painted around 1860-70. Trichinapolly School. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: IS 4660:3
  14. Ayah in blue choli carrying a china ewer and a basin, painted around 1860-70. Trichinapolly School. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: IS 4660:2
  15. Man ironing clothes, painted on Mica around mid 19th c, British Museum, Accession No: 1989,1225,0.15
  16. Servant taking a dog for walk, painted on Mica around mid 19th c in Patna, British Museum, Accession No: 2003,0224,0.18
  17. Three couples, painted in 1830 A.D. Thanjvaur School.. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: 39:5-1987
  18. The sheep eater exhibiting his powers at Fatehgar in Uttar Pradesh on 3rd March 1796 A.D. painted in 1800. Calcutta School. Victoria & Albert Museum, Accession No: IS 11:15-1887


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  16. Manrique, S. (1927). Travels of… 1629-1643. E. Luard and H. Hosten,(Oxford: Hakluyt Society, 1927)1,
  17. Mitter, P. (1994).Art and nationalism in colonial India, 1850-1922: Occidental orientations. Cambridge University Press.
  18. Mitter, P. (1977).Much maligned monsters: A history of European reactions to Indian art. Claredon Press. Oxford
  19. Oaten, E. F. (2010).European Travellers in India: During the Fifteenth, Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, the Evidence Afforded by Them with Respect to Indian Social Institutions, & the Nature & Influence of Indian Governments. Low Price Publications.
  20. Okada, A. (1992).Imperial Mughal painters: Indian miniatures from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Editions Flammarion.
  21. Pal, P. Indian Artists and British Patrons in Calcutta.Changing Visions, Lasting Images: Calcutta Through Three Hundred Years, ed. Pratapaditya Pal, 125-142.Marg
  22. Pearson, M. N. (2008).The Portuguese in India (Vol. 1). Cambridge University Press.
  23. Rogers, J. M. (1993).Mughal miniatures. British Museum Press.

Soujit Das- PhD Junior Research Fellow (UGC), Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India.

 Dr. Ila Gupta- Professor & HOD, Department of Architecture and Planning, Indian Institute of  Technology Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India.

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