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Calvary rifleman

early 19th century


Company school


late 18th century – late 19th century

No image
  • Details

    Place where the work was made
    Kutch Gujarat India
    early 19th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    watercolour on paper
    18.5 x 14.5 cm sight
    Gift of Dr Jim Masselos 2022
    Not on display
    Accession number
    Artist information
    Company school

    Works in the collection


  • About

    The so-called ‘Company School’ emerged in the latter part of the 18th century when the British overthrew both the Mughal and the Rajput rulers of India. Indian artists, who had previously painted for Mughal and Rajput patrons, instead began painting for the English residents of India, many of whom were employed with the British East India Company. Pictures painted for the British by Indian artists to suit the taste of the new clients came to be known as ‘Company Painting’. Company school artists mostly recorded the occupations and customs of local populations but were also commissioned to document architectural sites and undertake works of scientific investigation including studies of botanical specimens and local fauna.

    Several distinct styles and sub-schools of Company painting developed throughout India as well as regions beyond, such as Sri Lanka and Burma. The distinct style that developed in Kutch has been identified as a synthesis of vernacular court painting and the appropriation of subjects and compositional conventions from European prints introduced by British officers in the later half of the 18th century. Due to their popularity, the European prints were widely circulated and known locally as Perspective Views because they were characterised by single point perspective as applied to buildings and landscapes.

    This finely crafted painting depicts a soldier on a white horse wearing a white jama and turban and carrying a rifle and sword. Although no attempt has been made to place the mounted cavalryman in the context of painted landscape, the artist has included a shadow that grounds the horse and a raised front hoof thus creating the illusion of depth and movement. The soldier sits comfortably on a saddlecloth decorated with blue flowers and his vision remains fixed on the path ahead- giving the impression that the pair are sauntering home rather than heading into battle.

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 2 publications

    • Maggs Bros. Ltd. (Editor), Oriental miniatures & illuminations, London, Oct 1980, plate XIII (illus.). lot no. 41

    • Jim Masselos, TAASA Review, "Cultural encounters: The reverse gaze of Kutch painting", p. 19, Sydney, Jun 2010, 19 ( colour illus.).

Other works by Company school

See all 28 works