INDIAN COMPANY SCHOOL (Tanjore); Hindu scribe and his wife
The Company painting genre arose from the desire in British and European employees of various trading companies in India to record and possess images of the country. Produced by Indian artists in a mixed Indo-European style, Company paintings document a wide spectrum of India's life and culture, from architecture and the natural world to the costumes, castes, occupations and daily activities of its people.
Company painting as a genre appeared in India in the late 1700s under British rule. The prevailing European interest in the 'picturesque' compelled many to record the exotic and unfamiliar sights they encountered, through sketches and painting. Hindu scribe and his wife is typical of the Tanjore style of Company painting, in which men and women of different castes were depicted holding the implements of their trade. The East India Company employed a number of Indian artists to assist its engineers in making records of architecture. Through this contact, the artists gained a knowledge of both European techniques and British tastes, which included a keen interest in the Indian people, their costume, trades, religions and customs. Works such as this form an important record, prior to the advent of photography, of a particular time and way of life.