Johan Zoffany Colonel Blair with his Family and an Indian Ayah 1786

Artwork details

Artist
Johan Zoffany 1733–1810
Title
Colonel Blair with his Family and an Indian Ayah
Date 1786
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Unconfirmed: 965 x 1346 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Bequeathed by Simon Sainsbury 2006, accessioned 2008
Reference
T12610
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1780

Display caption

William Blair was a Colonel in the East India Company who commanded the brigade at Cawnpore. Zoffany paints him with his wife Jane and daughters, the elder also called Jane at the piano, and Maria feeding a cat held by an Indian girl.

In the background are three paintings: a large hill scene, and two of Indian customs which fascinated and horrified westerners. One shows wood being piled for suttee, the burning alive of a widow, and the other a religious ritual of appeasement called Charak Puja in which a man is suspended by a wire between the shoulder blades.

October 2013

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