Photos: Birds of India, DAG’s stunning exhibition of paintings from 1800 to 1835

The works, on display at the DAG gallery in Delhi, were created by Company painters, Indian artists who worked in

Published on Sep 03, 2021 04:56 PM IST 12 Photos

Company Paintings - 1800 to 1835 is India’s first exhibition of its kind devoted entirely to Indian birds. They’re works by unknown Indian masters commissioned by the British East India Company in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, to document India’s animals, plants, monuments and people. This image is of a Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus).(Courtesy DAG Gallery)

The exhibition features 125 paintings. The birds depicted in this exhibition include raptors, game birds, coastal waders and many woodland and forest birds, some very familiar and several that are now scarce. This image is of a Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata).(Courtesy DAG Gallery)

The majority, 99 images have been sourced from the album of Cunninghame Graham, with works dated from 1800 to 1804. Additional works have come from an 1810 album of birds from north-east India, which use exaggeratedly vivid colours; the Faber album from 1830; and four folios by Chuni Lal of Patna assembled in 1835. This image is of a Spot-billed or Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis).(Courtesy DAG GAllery)


Combining the delicacy and details of Mughal atelier-trained artists with the refinement and rationalisation of European art, the works signify a hybrid Indian style unique to the Indian subcontinent whose patronage was almost entirely British. This image is of a Blyth’s Kingfisher (Alcedo Hercules).(Courtesy DAG GAllery)

Unfortunately, the patrons who commissioned these works didn’t record the names of the artists who worked on them. The Indian painters, then, remain largely anonymous. This image is of a Spotted Owlet (Athene brama).(Courtesy DAG Gallery)