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Illustration of an Indian woman holding a flower
This exhibition is in the past. View our current exhibitions.

The Georgians and India

Following the East India Company’s take-over of Bengal in 1765, the Company gained a greater stronghold in south India as well, centred in Madras (modern Chennai). Soon a British political representative or ‘Resident’ was sent to every significant court in the subcontinent. Here they exerted considerable influence and control.

Letters and gifts, including manuscripts and paintings,were sent from many South Asian rulers toGeorge III and George IV. East India Company officers also presented gifts to the British monarchs, and by the early nineteenth century the Royal Library had amassed one of the most splendid collections of South Asian paintings and manuscripts outside the subcontinent.

A watercolour of a river scene, probably showing Benares.
Paintings and manuscripts from south India

South India is best known for its brightly-coloured wall paintings and richly decorated painted sculptures

One of the personal Qurans of Tipu Sultan of Mysore (1750-99).
The Quran is the sacred text of Islam. According to Muslim belief it is the Word of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by the Archangel Gabriel in verses of Arabic poetry.
The text writte
The library of Tipu Sultan

This extensive library of over 2,000 volumes contained manuscripts in the local languages of Kannada, Marathi and Telugu as well as Persian, Arabic, French and English.

A ground plan of the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple in Tamil Nadu. This is one of three related architectural drawings in the Royal Collection (see also RCINs 930166 and 930167) drawn in pen-and-ink and wash by local south Indian draughtsmen in
The Carnatic under the Wallajah Nawabs

George III and George IV had the closest relationship with the Wallajah rulers of the Carnatic

This is the only known European-style portrait on canvas of Mughal Emperor Akbar Shah II (r. 1806–37). Aged around 70, he sits on a European-style chair grasping the pipe of a large hookah as he gazes outwards from the canvas. To his left and right
Paintings and manuscripts from the Hindu courts of north India

Many paintings and manuscripts commissioned in the Hindu courts of north India relate to 'bakhti'

Two murtis (representations of Hindu deities which serve as a focus for divine worship) of Vishnu and his consort Lakshmi (Shri Devi) standing side-by-side on a pedestal on a garden terrace. They are depicted as if idols on a pedestal but also as rea
Series depicting the dashavatara

Devotion to Vishnu and his ten earthly incarnations is particularly prevalent in north India.

A pictorial depiction of the Hindustani musical mode Khambavati.
In Hindustani classical music, there are no set compositions but modes or frameworks, called ragas, on which musicians build each performance. These ragas are associated with particular scal
Pahari paintings of music and poetry

Pahari paintings refer to works of art created in the small Hindu kingdoms in the foothills of the Western Himalayas

Illustration to Book 7 of the Bhagavata Purana, Chapter 8: Vishnu in his Narasimha (half-man half-lion) incarnation bursts out of the wooden pillar and attacks Hiranyakashipu. 
For this series see RCIN 925226.
The story of Prahlada from the ‘Bhagavata Purana’

The Hindu epic text the ‘Bhagavata Purana’ narrates the stories of the avatars of Vishnu

A painting of Nanak, the first Sikh Guru, seated on a lakeside palace terrace. He sits on a floral carpet wearing a Kashmiri shawl over a dervish’s patched garment with an ascetic’s crutch laid beside him. He holds prayer beads in his left han
Paintings from the Sikh courts

Sikhism emerged in the Punjab in the sixteenth century as a distinct religion

The income from your ticket contributes directly to The Royal Collection Trust, a registered charity. The aims of The Royal Collection Trust are the care and conservation of the Royal Collection, and the promotion of access and enjoyment through exhibitions, publications, loans and educational activities.