'Capturing' India: Early Colonial Artists & their Depiction of Indian Life

About the Project

‘Capturing’ India: Early Colonial Artists & their Depiction of Indian Life is an archival project, supported jointly by Victoria Memorial Hall and India Foundation for the Arts, which aims to explore the breathtaking collection of early colonial paintings housed in the VMH. These paintings, were prepared mostly by European artists who visited India during the initial phase of colonial rule (roughly 1780s to 1830s).

Artist Showcase

What is immensely fascinating is that despite being separated from these artists and the world they depicted by almost two hundred years, there is much that we would recognize in their paintings of Indian  life.

Balthazar Solvyns

François Balthazar Solvyns (1760-1824), a Flemish painter who spent more than a decade of his life in Calcutta, is best remembered today for his vast collection of ethnographic sketches featuring the inhabitants of Bengal.

Emily Eden

Emily Eden (1797–1869) was one of the most garrulous and keenly observant memsahibs to have written about India in the first half of the nineteenth century. She embarked on a 2.5 year long journey through the plains of northern India.

William Hodges

Being one of the earliest professionally trained British artists to reach Bengal, Hodges had a virtually uncharted territory in front of him, and he immediately set himself the task of touring northern India (with ample assistance provided by Hastings).

Sophie Charlotte Belnos

Sophie Charlotte Belnos (1795-1865) was one of the first European women living in India to take up painting as a profession. She was born in Calcutta and was married to French miniature painter called Jean-Jacque Belnos.


Explore Miscellaneous Paintings

A fascinating world which is otherwise largely lost to us, and which we would do well to recover, glimpse at, and appreciate.

Project Facilitators