A grey partridge with speckled plumage Company School, Calcutta, circa 1820
pencil and watercolour on paper, framed 392 x 467 mm.
Calcutta was founded in 1690 on the mud-flats of the Hooghly River and was quickly established as a trading station. By 1773 Calcutta was a thriving and rich city which the British regarded as their capital in India. The Barrackpore Menagerie and Aviary, just outside Calcutta, was established in 1804 with the support of the Marquis of Wellesley (Governor-General 1796-1805)and under the supervision of his staff-surgeon Dr Francis Buchanan (1762-1829). George Annesley, 10th Viscount Valentia (1769-1844) was an ardent collector of natural history material and presented Lord Wellesley with two paintings of birds when he stayed with the Governor-General in Calcutta in 1803. These are now in the collection of the India Office Library in the British Library. This interest in natural history continued in the 19th Century to provide much employment for Company School artists from other British patrons who eager to collect detailed records of Indian wild life.
For comparison see S. C. Welch, Room for Wonder: Indian Painting during the British Period, New York 1978, nos. 17 & 18.