Art/ Collection/ Art Object
{{img.publicCaption}}

Two Sides of a Bengal River Fish

Object Name:
Illustrated single work
Date:
ca. 1804
Geography:
Made in India, Calcutta
Medium:
Pencil, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper
Dimensions:
Painting: H. 15 1/16 (38.3 cm) W. 21 1/8 in. (53.7 cm) Mat (Standard frame C): H. 22 1/4 (56.5 cm) W. 28 1/8 in. (71.4 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art, 2004
Accession Number:
2004.176
Not on view
This painting most likely illustrates a Bengal tongue sole fish (Cynoglossus cynoglossus), so-called for its unusual flat shape. The artist who created this work has illustrated two views—top and bottom—of the same creature, executed on paper in pencil and watercolor with traces of gilding. The mottled, scaly surface of the fish’s body is carefully rendered with a subtle metallic sheen, as are its mouth and eyes and the dark spots along the body.
The work is from the collection of Marquis Wellesley, governor-general of India between 1798 and 1805. His collection of natural history paintings numbered around 2,660 folios depicting plants, birds, mammals, insects, and fish. In his important position, Wellesley regularly received presents of rare flowers, birds, and animals from East India Company servants all over India and from travelers visiting from further east. The gifts were kept in a magnificent menagerie and recorded in paintings such as these.
Marquis Wellesley, Governor-General of India (from about 1804); [ Victoria Munroe, Boston, until 2004; sold to MMA]
Metz. Centre Pompidou-Metz. "Formes simples," June 12, 2014–November 5, 2014.

Related Objects

Great Indian Fruit Bat

Date: ca. 1777–82 Medium: Pencil, ink, and opaque watercolor on paper Accession: 2008.312 On view in:Gallery 464

A Syce (Groom) Holding Two Carriage Horses

Artist: attributed to Shaikh Muhammad Amir of Karraya (active 1830s–40s) Date: ca. 1845 Medium: Opaque watercolor on paper Accession: 1994.280 On view in:Gallery 464

"The Story of the Princess of the Blue Pavillion: The Youth of Rum Is Entertained in a Garden by a Fairy and her Maidens", Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusrau Dihlavi

Artist: Amir Khusrau Dihlavi (1253–1325) Date: 1597–98 Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Accession: 13.228.33 On view in:Gallery 463

"A Muslim Pilgrim Learns a Lesson in Piety from a Brahman", Folio from a Khamsa (Quintet) of Amir Khusrau Dihlavi

Artist: Amir Khusrau Dihlavi (1253–1325) Date: 1597–98 Medium: Image: Ink, opaque watercolor, and gold on paper Margins: Gold on dyed paper Accession: 13.228.29 On view in:Gallery 463

The House of Bijapur

Artist: Painting by Kamal Muhammad (active 1680s) Date: ca. 1680 Medium: Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper Accession: 1982.213 On view in:Gallery 463