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Dr. Childers publishes essay on paintings of the Patna opium factory

November 1, 2017

 

 

 

Professor Hope Childers of the Art History Division recently published an essay on Indian representations of the 19th-century opium trade:

Spectacles of Labor: Artists and Workers in the Patna Opium Factory in the 1850s.

 

She considers depictions of labor at the factory, particularly in a set of nineteen paintings by Indian artist Shiva Lal, a so-called Company Painter in the Patna School, producing artworks for British patrons. She contrasts this set against a well-known series of prints by Walter Sherwill that also show factory scenes, but which cast the labor in a very different light.

 

Widely published as mere illustrations of opium history, but overlooked by art historians, the set by Shiva Lal narrates a story of early advancements being made by Indian artists and laborers in this period, while also exposing imperial anxieties about the China trade.

 

 

 

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