A Selection of Late 18th & Early 19th Century Indian Botanical Paintings
31 March – 18 July 1980
This major exhibition of late-18th- and early-19th-century botanical watercolors featured some 70 boldly handsome, yet graceful illustrations by Indian artists who worked under commission from the East India Company. A representative selection of paintings were borrowed from four British institutions: British Museum (Natural History), Linnean Society of London, India Office Library and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Artists trained in the Mughal tradition adapted their skills for the purposes of recording, with the standard accuracy demanded by European scientists, the potential plant resources of a territory under British influence. The paintings represented a blending of styles, a happy confluence of East and West. They were largely unknown and certainly had never been shown in America. Some of the paintings were the originals for illustrations in William Roxburgh's Plants of the Coast of Coromandel (1975), Nathaniel Wallich's Plantae Asiaticae Rariores (1830) and J. Forbes Royle's Illustrations of the Botany of the Himalayan Mountains (1839). A catalogue accompanied the exhibition.