We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Snake charmer

circa 1780


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Thanjavur (Tanjore) Tamil Nadu India
    circa 1780
    Media category
    Materials used
    opaque watercolour on paper
    27.8 x 20.2 cm (image); 33.0 x 25.6 cm (sheet)
    Gift of Dr Jim Masselos 2021
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    Paintings created to appeal to the tastes and interests of primarily European foreigners in India in the 18th century are often referred to as ‘company paintings’ after the East India Companies for which many of their purchasers worked. Images of pairs of men and women of different castes and occupations, often against largely monochromatic backgrounds, were especially popular. In this image a man plays a pipe to charm the cobra held by his female counterpart. Further indicating his role as an entertainer, three wooden puppets hang from his waist sash. Probably once part of a large series, the painting is inscribed ‘No. 36 A man who catches and tames snakes Malabar’.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications