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The Fate of the Indian Court Artists

As the Imperial artist made their presence felt in India the fate of the Indian court artist was in question.

Some Indian Ruler continued to encourage Indian court Artist while many towed the line of the Imperial artists.

  • Rulers who Encouraged Indian Artists

Tipu sultan was one of the few Indian rulers who did not encourage or adapt the style of the imperial artists. Tipu Sultan not only fought the British on the battlefield but also resisted the cultural traditions associated with them. He encouraged Indian Artists and made them paint his palace wall in rich Indian traditional art. These paintings or murals depicted the famous battle of Polilur of 1780 in which Tipu and Haidar Ali defeated the English troops.



A Section of Murals in Tipu’s Summer Palace, Daria Daulat Bagh Indians who Adapted Imperial Styles in Painting

  • In Murshidabad the British installed their puppet Nawabs on the throne, after defeating Sirajuddaulah.

  • The court at Murshidabad encouraged local miniature artists to absorb the tastes and artistic styles of the British.

  • The paintings done by the Indian Miniature artists now had resemblance to the imperial styles.

  • The paintings now had depth and shades of light and dark making the picture look more realistic.

  • With the establishment of British power many of the local courts lost their influence and wealth.

  • The local courts were not able to support the Indian painters.

  • The Indian painters turned to British to earn their livelihood.

Europeans arriving in India during the 18th century were fascinated by their new environment. The British wanted their visual experiences to be recorded in paintings and sketches, and found that the subjects that interested them could be depicted far more accurately by Indian than British artists.


During the 18th and 19th centuries, the British employed Indian artists to illustrate the manners and customs of India and to record scenes of monuments, deities, festivals, and occupations. These works later became known as 'Company paintings' because they were created by Indian artists employed by members of the British East India Company.



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