Pomegranates and papaya: A collection of 19 watercolours of fruit and vegetables from South- East Asia

The accumulation of natural history drawings by officials of the British East India Company gave rise to the term ‘Company School’, now out of favour, which has been used to describe the work of Indian or Chinese artists for British patrons. The distinctive style is a result of a fusion of two artistic traditions, the European with its desire for realism and the Asian taste for a more stylised approach. The work of Chinese artists is rarer than that of Indian artists and tends to be a little later in date.

British patrons commissioned local artists to draw the flora and fauna of India and other areas of South-East Asia. Such work is typically annotated with botanical notes in native script, romanised versions of native descriptions, Latin and with reference to the Linnaean system of classification, created by Carl Linnaeus (1707-78).

CashewThe eighteenth and early nineteenth century saw an enormous rise of interest in Europe in the study of natural history by both scientists and amateurs. A knowledge of the subject was considered to be an important part of a liberal education and many people studied ‘natural philosophy’ and the various branches of natural history. Accurate drawings were vital tools in classification as well as a reminder of the excited reaction to new discoveries being made all over the known world.

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Image captions:

(Top Right)
Watercolour and gum arabic on laid paper.
33 x 23 cm.; 13 x 9 inches.

Watercolour and gum arabic on laid paper
33 x 23 cm.; 13 x 9 inches.


Karen Taylor Fine Art
United Kingdom