The Mysore Scroll
Processions in India during the 1800s were complex events that celebrated various kinds of power and prestige. They revealed tensions in political authority, social hierarchy and religious tradition. The British representatives, for example, had to assert their colonial role without appearing to endorse or participate in the worship of Hindu deities who formed the focus of much of the event. Among the Hindu participants, the order of the various temples, sects and communities was often hotly contested.
Historians use the terms “Company painting” or “Company style” to describe paintings such as this scroll. They were produced by Indian artists for European patrons in the late 1700s and 1800s. Many of the buyers were British, and employed by the East India Company. Paintings of Indian occupations, castes, rituals, festivals and everyday life in India were of particular interest to the British, as were images of India’s natural history and architecture. The British often used Company paintings as illustrations for publications, or sent them home to England as souvenirs. This type of painting declined in popularity around the 1840s with the introduction of photography.