Johan Zoffany

Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match

c.1784–6

On display at Tate Britain

Artist
Johan Zoffany 1733–1810
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1039 x 1500 x 20 mm
frame: 1235 x 1695 x 85 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund, the Friends of the Tate Gallery and a group of donors 1994
Reference
T06856

Display caption

This picture shows an unruly sporting event at the court of the Nawab (governor) of Oudh in northern India. It highlights the looser moral codes of colonial life. In Britain, cockfighting was frowned on as cruel, but in colonial India the ‘normal’ rules of morality did not apply. One cock belongs to the Nawab (standing in the centre) and one to the British mercenary, Colonel Mordaunt (left, in white), commander of the Nawab’s bodyguard. 

Oudh was not directly ruled by the British in the eighteenth century. However, as in much of India, Britain had considerable influence with the powerful local rulers

Gallery label, February 2004

Explore

You might like