Connect with us

DailyArtMagazine.com – Art History Stories

In Good Company at Bonhams – An Exhibition of Fine Indian Paintings in London

Att. to Mazhar Ali Khan, View of Mecca, ca. 1840-55, Delhi (India). Source: ArtsofHindostan

Museums And Exhibitions

In Good Company at Bonhams – An Exhibition of Fine Indian Paintings in London

The global auction house, Bonhams and Arts of Hindostan will be staging a special exhibit of Fine Indian Paintings of the Company School from private collections that have never been publicly displayed before! This is a ‘viewing-only’ exhibit that is open to the general public – the paintings are not for sale and are only intended to promote public interest in artworks of the Company School.

The exhibition will be held from January 09, 2020, to January 17, 2020, at Bonhams in London (exhibit details below). If you happen to be in London this week, don’t miss out on this special opportunity!

In Good Company at Bonhams
Detail of Himalayan Monal ca. 1803-05, Calcutta (India) from the Bonhams catalog. Source: ArtsofHindostan/ Bonhams, London.

Birth of the Company School

In the 18th and 19th centuries, many expatriates from Europe moved to India as employees of the British East India Company (and other European East India Companies). Their travels across India and the unusual sights in these foreign lands captivated them and urged them to seek mementos of their incredible journey. Enterprising Indian painters capitalized on this demand and produced watercolor renditions of picturesque Indian scenes in a typically European style, thus giving rise to the Company School of art – also known as Kampani Kalam.

Sewak Ram, Muslim Bridegroom Marriage ProcessionDay Scene, ca. 1813, Patna (India). Source: ArtsofHindostan

The Company style was not a pan-Indian phenomenon and was generally relegated to areas that attracted foreign tourists or were centers of trade or governance for the British Raj. The style first emerged in Murshidabad (West Bengal) and then spread to other centers of trade; Varanasi, Patna, Lucknow Delhi, etc. The patronage of the Frasers in Delhi, Lord Valentia and Lady Impey in Calcutta and Claude Martin in Lucknow resulted in an impressive collection of Company style works.

In Good Company at Bonhams
Sewak Ram, Muslim Bridegroom Marriage ProcessionNight Scene, ca. 1810, Patna (India). Source: ArtsofHindostan.

Subject Matter of the Artworks

The subject matter of these paintings was of a documentary nature. They usually included renditions of Indian royalty, festivals, gatherings, trades, occupations, etc. Mughal monuments were in a popular subject of the paintings from Delhi. Some of the works were also for official purposes such as architectural drawings of monuments, palaces, forts, etc. Indian artists started to adopt a more naturalistic approach to painting than had traditionally been used. 

Himalayan Monal ca. 1803-05, Calcutta (India). Source: ArtsofHindostan.

Traditional Indian Works for European Patrons


Company style combined traditional elements from the Rajput and Mughal style of paintings with Western treatment. The technique varied but was generally drawn upon the western watercolor technique. European artists such as Thomas and William Daniells, William Hodges, Johann Zoffany and Balthazar Solvyns provided influences such as the use of perspective, the move from gouache to watercolor, and the use of softer palettes.

While most of the works were painted on paper, there was also a demand for images of Mughal monuments and Mughal nobility painted on plaques of ivory. Other media such as mica, textile, and shell were also used. These works were generally intended to be stored in portfolios or albums.

In Good Company at Bonhams
Shaikh Mohd. Amir of Karraya, Horse and Groom, ca. 1840, Eastern India. Source: ArtsofHindostan.

The Decline of the Company School


Though the style survived until the 20th century, the Company School lost its momentum after the introduction of photography in India around the 1840s. Ishwari Prasad who died in 1950 was the last notable exponent of company style paintings.

In Good Company at Bonhams
Panoramic View of Agra Fort from River Jamuna, ca. 1820, Agra (India). Source: ArtsofHindostan.

Masters of the Company Style

After the decline of the Mughals, many of the court painters flocked to European patrons and established themselves as masters of the Company style. Sewak Ram became an esteemed Company painter from Patna who catapulted the Patna works onto a national audience. Though inaccurate for all Company paintings, some patrons started to refer their artworks as belonging to the Patna School. Another noteworthy artist was Gulam Ali Kham, from Delhi whose circle excelled in portraitures and scenes of village life.


The works of Sewak Ram, Ghulam Ali Khan, Shaikh Muhammad Amir of Karraya, Zayn al-Din, Bhawani Das and many others will be on display at the Bonhams exhibit. Don’t miss out!

In Good Company at Bonhams
Chatu A Tarmati, Redhead Merlin on a Perch, ca. 1775-1785, Lucknow (India) Source: ArtsofHindostan.

Exhibition Information

In Good Company

Bonhams, 101 New Bond Street, London.

January 09, 2020, to January 17, 2020 (Weekdays only)

Time: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

No Entry Fee


Art, history, mythology, and dachshund enthusiast from New Delhi, based in Los Angeles.

Comments

More in Museums And Exhibitions

  • dailyart

    Painting of the Week: Pierre-Jacques Volaire, Eruption of Mount Vesuvius

    By

    The ground shakes and rumbles as the nearby mountain awakens. Smoke emerges from its peaks and the volcano stirs from its slumber. The land trembles more and a fiery blast shoots into the air as lava spews from the magma chamber. Liquid earth flows down the...

  • dailyart

    Introducing the Cleveland Museum of Art

    By

    The Cleveland Museum of Art is a major American art museum, renowned for the quality and breadth of its collection. It includes more than 61,000 works of art ranging over 6,000 years, from ancient to contemporary pieces. Its story began with a group of civic leaders...

  • dailyart

    Poetry without Motion: Endymion by George Frederick Watts

    By

    Is there anything more beautiful than Endymion by the English ‘Symbolist’ artist George Frederick Watts? Through the subtle contrasts of color and the piece’s form, he made a simple image of two entwined lovers visually fascinating. He captures the narrative of the drama at its most tender...

  • 21st century

    The Many Rebirths of Venus

    By

    Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus is iconic in western art. Alongside the Mona Lisa, it is probably a contender for “most famous painting.” Unsurprisingly the renowned Renaissance picture has inspired reconfiguration, reproductions, and references in artworks ever since. So, let us explore some rebirths of...

  • Art Travels

    Art Travels: Angkor Thom, Cambodia

    By

    Angkor Thom or the ‘great city’ was the last Khmer empire’s capital from the 12th century until its abandonment in the 16th century. At its peak, the city was home to a population of around 1 million people. Angkor Thom contains the remains of a large...

To Top

Just to let you know, DailyArt Magazine’s website uses cookies to personalise content and adverts, to provide social media features and to analyse traffic. Read cookies policy