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RARE INDIAN ITEM ON SALE

A large Company School album of watercolours of costumes, craftsmen, trades and processions in India providing a fascinating insight into the culture of the early 1800s will go under the hammer in LONDON next month and is expected to fetch anything between 200,000 and 300,000 pounds. This album is remarkable for the size, quality and range of subjects of the watercolours, the auction house said. It will be sold in Sotheby's Arts of the Islamic World sale on April 24. In an era before cameras and photography, administrators, officials and visitors to the East India Company would commission such albums, painted by local Indian artists to bring back and show their friends and relatives. Superior to the majority of similar related productions of Company patronage, the album is remarkable for both its size and quality, and also for its uncommon subject matter. Alongside depictions of craftsmen, processions, dancers and contemporary costumes, the album also contains a self- portrait showing the artist at work. Among other characters illustrated are a fisherman, doctor, barber, goldsmith, a dressing servant and dancing girls. All in all, the album includes 35 large sheets bound in their original leather covers. The album contains some interesting and rare portraits. The focus of the album as well as its pictorial style is the southern and eastern regions of India. A very similar album is in the India Office Collections in the British Library here.

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