Lapidary at work

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  • Catalogue text

    An East India Company factory has long been established at Patna on the river Ganges in the late 18th century, and as the British strengthened their hold over northern India from Bengal, the city became an important administrative centre. A number of Indian artists, deprived of their traditional patronage by the Mughal nobility, migrated elsewhere, while others came to settle in Patna and began selling series of vignettes of Indian life in a Europeanised style to foreign residents and visitors in search of the picturesque. Sewak Rām (c.1770-c.1830), one of the earliest of the migrants, came from Murshidabad and by the turn of the 19th century had a successful bazaar shop specialising in sets of paintings of Indian trades, costumes and festivals. He was a conscientious artist, working in a sombre palette attuned to the British taste, who did much to establish the pictorial conventions of the Patna school [see EAX.2030]. This study of a lapidary seated on a darī, cutting precious stones with a bow-drill, is one of two pictures attributed to Sewak Rām in the Museum’s collection.

    In: Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987)

Further reading

Harle, J. C., and Andrew Topsfield, Indian Art in the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1987), no. 95 on p. 84, pp. 83 & 86, illus. p. 85

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