Title "Company School" Metamorphic Costume Cards, Watercolors/Gouache on Mica, depicting various Indian characters -- tradespeople and servants
Book Condition Good
Seller ID 006484
N.d. Circa 1830 to 1850. Eleven cards, ten of which are overlay cards, deliberately leaving out a face, and one, the base card, this one featuring two heads, one to apply to the standing figures, the other, to the kneeling/seated ones, regardless of the figure's gender. The cards all measure 11 by 7.5 cm. Scarce genre. One comes upon Company School mica painted figures with some regularity, and metamorphic costume overlay cards, the same, but the two genres combined are encountered far far less. These Indian paintings on mica from the early to mid-19th Century have become known as "Company School" paintings because they were typically produced for employees of the East India Company as souvenirs. The genre was supposedly emulating the painting on glass which was the rage in Europe at the time. The nature of mica dictated the size of these paintings. While mica has the wonderful ability to be shaved off into thin slices or sheets, these sheets are also brittle and easily fracture, making a larger format impractical. The subject matter of these cards include a seated street vendor with scales, a seated woman spinning thread on a spindle whorl, a seated pot mender, a man armed with a scimitar and shield, a kneeling man with a bottle and cup, a man with a hound and whip, a dancing girl, etc. Condition: typical edge chips, cracks or fracturing. Still, the painted work remains bright, fresh, and essentially well-preserved.