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Landscape Painting - Looking for the Picturesqu

Painting beautiful landscapes was popular among the European artists who came to India during the 18th century.
  • These paintings portrayed India as a charming land, to be explored by British artists.

  • The artists showed India as a rugged and wild land.

Thomas Daniell

Thomas Daniell and his nephew William Daniell were the most famous of the artists who painted these picturesque landscapes.


Thomas Daniell and His Nephew William




Thomas Daniell began his career as a landscape painter. He travelled extensively throughout Great Britain and executing many fine paintings. In 1784 he came to India with his nephew William. They both remained in India for seven years. Together they executed a number of major works in engraving, oils and watercolours. Indian views were his favourite subject.

  • Thomas Daniell and his nephew William produced some of the most picturesque landscape paintings of India.

  • The large oil paintings on canvas, done by them, were regularly exhibited to select audiences in Britain.

  • Their albums of engravings were bought up by the British who wanted to know about Britain’s Empire.

  • 'Oriental Scenery' is the title given to the monumental six-volume work of 144 hand-coloured engravings made by Thomas Daniell and his nephew William, a boy of sixteen, from a selection of their drawings produced in India.

  • The paintings by Thomas Daniell and his nephew William showed the ruins of local buildings that were once grand.

  • The paintings seemed to reveal that India would change and modernise only through British governance.

  • The idea of British rule bringing modern civilisation to India is powerfully emphasised in the numerous pictures of late-eighteenth-century Calcutta drawn by the Daniels.

Esplanade, Calcutta


Cheri ghee, Calcutta


The Writers' Buildings, Calcutta


The Mayor’s Court and Writers Building, Calcutta


From the above drawings one can see the making of a new Calcutta, with wide avenues, majestic European-style buildings, and new modes of transport. There is life and activity on the roads, there is drama and excitement. The paintings show contrasting images of traditional India with that of India under British rule.

  • Some paintings like the one on ‘Cheri ghee, Calcutta’ represent the traditional life of India as pre-modern, changeless and motionless, with cows, and boats sailing on the river.

  • The painting of ‘The Writers' Buildings, Calcutta’ shows the modernising influence of British rule.

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