Front cover image for Company curiosities : nature, culture and the East India Company, 1600-1874

Company curiosities : nature, culture and the East India Company, 1600-1874

Arthur MacGregor (Author)
For nearly three hundred years, the East India Company dominated British trade and relations with Asia. It made handsome profits for shareholders but also provided collectors in Europe with natural specimens and man-made rarities that were prized for their scientific, aesthetic or cultural value. An array of administrators, soldiers, surveyors spent much of their lives attempting to inventory and to comprehend India's vast country, its teeming populations and its myriad rituals and wildlife: nearly forty species of mammals and over 120 species of birds were discovered in the Katmandu valley alone; astonishing wall paintings from the fifth-century were unearthed in caves at Ajanta; and spectacular fossil fauna arrived from the Siwalik Hills. Company Curiosities: Nature, Culture and the East India Company, 1600-1874 offers the first-ever overview of the remarkable role of the East India Company and its servants in collecting and showcasing a treasure-house of natural specimens and man-made objects - craft materials, paintings and sculptures, weapons, costumes, jewels and ornaments - that established the look and the feel of India for those who had never ventured abroad. Arthur MacGregor tells the stories behind the remarkable discoveries and collections, and those responsible for them, and their impact on natural science, commerce and industry, and personal taste
Print Book, English, 2018
Reaktion Books, London, 2018
397 pages : illustrations (some color), facsimiles ; 25 cm
9781789140033, 178914003X
Preamble: The East India Company, 1600-1874
The India of the East India Company ; European Contenders ; The Expansion of Company Power ; East of India ; The Church and the Company ; The Landscape of Collecting
Pioneering Fieldwork to 1800
Sympathetic Supporters: The Asiatic Society of Bengal and Others
Company Naturalists I: Botany and Empire: Early years in the Madras Presidency ; The Calcutta Botanical Garden ; Other Company gardens ; Up-country: Company botanists in the field ; Shipping the harvest ; Herbarium specimens and associated archives
Company Naturalists II: Zoology in Early British India ; Menageries and museum specimens from the animal world ; Marquess Wellesley and the promotion of natural history ; Zoology after Wellesley
Paper Museums: Natural History Illustrators and Illustrations
Documenting and Representing the Subcontinent: European artists and the image of India ; Topography and antiquities recorded by Company personnel ; Antiquarian survey ; Topographical survey ; Antiquarian collecting ; Major-General Charles Stewart and his museum ; Emergent ethnography ; Photography and the Company
The India Museum: Wilkins to Horsfield ; Royle, the 'economic museum' and the age of international exhibitions ; The Great Exhibition of 1851 ; The Royal Dublin Society exhibitions, 1853 and 1865 ; The Paris Expositions universelles, 1855 and 1867 ; The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, 1857 ; The era of Forbes Watson's trade museum ; Beyond the trade museum ; From pillar to post ; Dispersal ; The India Museum's wider legacy
Homecomings: Returning East India Hands and Their Legacy: Collections by Company personnel and merchants ; Houses of the nabobs ; Gardens ; Furnishing the nabob's house ; Indian sculpture in Britain ; Miscellaneous curiosities ; Animal rarities
Published with support from the Marc Fitch Fund, the Paul Mellon Centre and The Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars