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Visual Cultures of Colonial India: A Historical Perspective, 24-25 April 2024

Motilal Nehru College, University of Delhi
Benito Juarez Marg, South Campus, South Moti Bagh, New Delhi, Delhi 110021, India
24-25 April 2024
Convened by Sonal Singh

This seminar aimed to discuss the visual cultures of colonial India with which producers and consumers of art objects were engaging.

The eighteenth-century world was replete with patrons, consumers and producers of art and Britain and, through its agency of colonialism, India, were no exceptions. The robustness was visible not only in the import, export and auction of art between mainland Europe and London, but also in numerous artists traversing the globe in search of patronage and inspiration to tap into the growing art market of the eighteenth century.

As the English East India Company came to have strong political foothold over parts of South Asia from the middle of the eighteenth century onwards, several European artists arrived in India in search of patronage. The proliferation in artwork owed not only to the growing middle class in England which emerged as a paying viewer at exhibitions held in different cities, but could also easily be attributed to the changes in artistic technologies with a shift from watercolour to oil on canvas to aquatints, chromolithography, panorama, photography and so on. The ability to produce faithful multiple copies and the possibility to exhibit artworks in various cities through mobile exhibitions without damaging the artwork itself allowed for a larger consumer base for the works of artists.

A critical study of the networks that sustained the hybridity in the long eighteenth century can go a long way in unravelling the fascinating multi-layered interconnected histories of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic regions through the history of the circulation of art objects.

You can view the Visual Cultures of Colonial India seminar schedule here.