Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/228476
Title: CAPTURING EMPIRE: COLONIAL LANDSCAPES OF THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY
Authors: RAJKUMAR SURUTHI
Keywords: Picturesque
Thomas Daniell
James Baillie Fraser
British empire
Calcutta
Urban landscapes
Colonial art
Issue Date: 30-Mar-2022
Citation: RAJKUMAR SURUTHI (2022-03-30). CAPTURING EMPIRE: COLONIAL LANDSCAPES OF THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: This thesis aims to explore how British artists negotiated with the ideals of the picturesque in the colonial setting. I seek to problematise the understanding of the picturesque style as capable of enforcing British dominance in their colonies through considering the interconnectedness between artistic interests, market demands, and the social, political, and cultural contexts. The picturesque emerged as an aesthetic frame of reference, and a visual method for documenting landscapes seen during travel in the European context. While this transformed the British tradition of landscape painting, the style was, nonetheless, inevitably shaped by prevailing discourses regarding power and class relations. In the colonies, the picturesque was used to create the effect of ‘taming’ the landscape, often for the purposes of manufacturing an image of colonial control. It was thus configured as a tool that highlighted the civilising aspects of the colonial mission, particularly evident in topographic depictions of urban settlements in Calcutta by Thomas Daniell (1749-1840) and James Baillie Fraser (1783-1856). In the sociopolitical context of growing imperial anxieties among Britons in Calcutta and in Britain, their methods of production signify how they might have unintentionally participated in the colonial enterprise. This suggests a more complex interpretation of the functions of the picturesque and topographic landscape painting, beyond merely imposing British hegemony. Rather, artists were constantly responding to the evolving concerns, which in turn informed the aesthetic sensibilities of their audience, thus allowing these works to be read for inconsistencies and tensions in the British image of power in Calcutta. This facilitates a more nuanced understanding of how landscape paintings reflect a complicated perspective on the nature of British colonial power.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/228476
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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