As the British East India Company expanded its purview in India beyond trade to include diplomacy and administration, greater numbers of officers, and eventually their families, were stationed in the region. Many became active patrons of the arts, giving rise to the so-called Company School of painting—or simply Company painting—of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Responding to their patrons' European tastes, scientific interests, and sense of discovery, Indian artists—some previously trained in late-Mughal techniques of painting—evolved their styles to create large-scale images of India's flora, fauna, people, and landscape. While formal natural studies comprise a major genre of Company painting, other idioms, such as the picturesque—which offered romanticized views of landscape and architecture—also flourished.
This exhibition brings together works from The Met collection that have never before been shown together and features the debut of two recent acquisitions.
This exhibition was also on view from July 19 through September 16, 2016.
Painting attributed to Bhawani Das. Great Indian Fruit Bat (detail), ca. 1777–82. India, Calcutta. Pencil, ink, and opaque watercolor on paper; H. 23 1/2 in. (59.7 cm) W. 32 3/4 in. (83.2 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Anonymous Gift, Cynthia Hazen Polsky Gift, Virginia G. LeCount Bequest, in memory of The LeCount Family, 2007 Benefit Fund, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, 2008 (2008.312)