Indian Life and People in the 19th CenturyA Selection of Company Paintings from the Book- Indian Life and People in the 19th Century.

Defining a distinct style of painting produced in India during the British period and influenced by European artistic norms, this catalogue of Company Paintings in the TAPI (Textiles & Art of the People of India) Collection is a unique illustration of the social milieu prevailing in India in the nineteenth century. Tracing the origins and evolution of this genre of painting, the volume shines a fresh beam on subjects commissioned to be painted by officials of the East India Company, such as occupations, customs, dress, bazaars, festivals and daily life of ordinary people, a world removed from the elite and princely environment that were the chosen subjects of Indian miniature artists.

The catalogue of the TAPI Collection of Company Paintings highlights works from the major regions where such paintings were produced – Murshidabad, Calcutta, Patna, Lucknow, Delhi, Punjab, Kutch, Tanjore, Trichinopoly, Madras, Kerala and the Andhra Coast. It comprises a rich and accurate record of the diverse modes of dress and manners of the people before the advent of photography.

This catalogue documents the first-ever exhibition on the subject to be held in India, being a collaboration between TAPI and CSMVS (Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, formerly the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India).

A selection of Company Paintings from the book highlighting the everyday Indian life in the 19th Century-

Pole decorator. A man wearing a white flared kurta and paijama with red cummerbund and green turban is seated outside a hut joining lengths of rod together to form a pole of uniform width, around which he is wrapping coloured ribbon.



Bread makers. One is mixing the dough for loaves in a large copper pot and laying them on a white cloth on the ground, the other is transferring them to an open fire in a pot. He uses two long sticks to move the loaves around and transfer them to another white cloth on the ground.



A falconer and his wife. He wears a knee-length white jama over red paijama, a white Maratha-style turban and a yellow angavastra and holds a falcon or hawk in his hand. She wears a red odhani over a brown skirt and brown bodice and holds a lizard in her hand (for feeding the bird).


Paper maker. Wearing a white jama, green paijama and a red turban, he squats lifting his board with a new sheet of paper from its bath to join the pile of paper sheets he has beside him.


Money changer, Calcutta, 1795–1803. Wearing just a dhoti and a red turban, with rudrakasha beads round his neck and a sacred thread round his torso, the money changer sits on a reed mat on the ground balancing a coin on his fist.


About the Authors
J.P. Losty was for many years curator of Indian visual materials in the British Library in London. He has published extensively on Indian paintings and manuscripts. His latest books include Indian Paintings of the British Period in the Jagdish and Kamla Museum of Art, Hyderabad, 2016, and A Mystical Realm of Love: Pahari Paintings from the Eva and Konrad Seitz Collection, London, 2017.

John Keay has been writing about India for over forty years. His India: A History (2000, 2010) is the standard narrative account of South Asia’s past, while India Discovered (1981 and still in print) has inspired a generation of research into the nineteenth-century reconstruction of India’s classical past. Also still in print is his The Honourable Company (1991), a sweeping history of the English East India Company. His latest work is an intriguing biographical quest – The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner. He lives in Scotland.


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