This lecture explores how art shaped the nationalisation of the East India Company between the loss of its primary monopoly in 1813 and its ultimate liquidation in 1858. Challenging the idea that parliament drove political reform, Tom Young argues instead that the Company’s political legitimacy was destabilised by novel modes of artistic production. New artistic forms and practices—the result of new technologies like lithography and steam navigation, middle-class print formats like the periodical, the scrapbook and the literary annual, as well as the prevalence of amateur sketching among Company employees—reconfigured the colonial regime’s racial boundaries and techniques of governance, thereby eroding the aristocratic corporate cultures that had previously structured colonial authority in India.
Tom Young is Lecturer in Nineteenth-Century Art Histories at the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London. He is the author of Unmaking the East India Company: British Art and Political Reform in Colonial India, c. 1813–1858.
This online lecture is presented by The British India Historical Trust. For more information and to book tickets, please visit https://www.britishinindia.org.uk/lectures