During the late 18th century as the East India Company expanded its control over Bengal
and parts of northern India, Indian painting technique and style underwent revolutionary changes. The Mughal style of painting using natural pigments and minerals were abandoned for the newly learned watercolour technique, and old painting themes that were based on historical epics (Ragmala series) and portraits, gave way to ones that were more European in their compositions. The new painting style that was more suitable to the British sensibilities, started in Murshidabad and was known as the Company style. The Company art focused on depicting wide landscapes, people celebrating festivals, historical monuments, and botanical and zoological specimens. SitaRam belonged to this Company school of art, and his works depict different historical monuments and landscapes, often using the picturesque technique that show distinct influence of George Chinnery. Some of Sitaram’s best paintings came from the albums he had made while accompanying Lord Hastings on his journey from Bengal to Punjab, as they sailed upstream on the river Ganga in 1814-1815. Sitaram’s paintings give us a rare glimpse into the mid nineteenth India, and we can see places and monuments as they were back then.
Sitaram’s paintings shown here are from the book by J.P Losty on “Sitaram”. The book has almost the entire collection of paintings by Sitaram that are known to exist, which the writer has painstakingly gathered from different private collections. However, some may still remain unknown (in some private collections) as the author states. Here I have given few of Sitaram’s paintings as seen in the book, to showcase the brilliant works by a relatively unknown 19th century Company artist from Bengal.
(all photographs shown here are strictly for representative purposes only).