Hughes French India Company School Drawings

Detail of a pattern

At A Glance

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  • Creator

    Hughes, Thomas L., Mr.
  • Dates

  • Physical Description

    32 Items (39 x 25 cm.)
  • Collection ID


  • Scope and Contents

    A series of watercolor pictures depicting Tamil men and women of various trades and castes. These ethnographic studies may have been rendered for a French official or merchant as identification aides by a local Indian artist in Pondicherry, as the area was under French control as part of the French Indian Territories during this time. The name "Company School" has been attached to suggest the similarity between these drawings and those typically commissioned by the East India Company, especially during the early 18th century.

    The format generally consists of a drawing of an individual with information identifying the subject's caste and the activity depicted. Not all drawings are accompanied by identifying information. It may be notable that, while not all of the male subjects are identified in the above manner, none of the female subjects are identified by caste or activity. The regularity of size and shape and numbering of the sheets would seem to indicate that these drawings may have been used to illustrate a bound monograph. Captions are in French. Several sheets are watermarked "J. Whatman. Balston & Co." with dates 1822-1825.
  • Biographical / Historical

    Thomas L. Hughes was a prominent official in the U.S. Department of State and visited India during the 1960s; he also maintained collegiate relations with Chester Bowles, a former U.S. Ambassador to India and an influential advocate for Third World aid programs in Washington.
  • Local Numbers

    FSA A1993.10
  • Creator

    Hughes, Thomas L., Mr.
  • Place

    India -- Social life and customs -- Pictorial works
    India -- Description and Travel -- views
    India -- Union Territory
  • Topic

    Drawing, Indic
    Tamil (Indic people)
    Ethnology -- India
  • Provenance

    The collection was donated to Sackler Gallery Study Collection in 1984 by Thomas L. Hughes and moved to the Archives on December 13 and 22, 1993.
  • Container

    Box 1
    Box 2
  • Custodial History

    Gift of Thomas L. Hughes, 1984-1985
  • Archival Repository

    Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
  • Type

    Collection descriptions
    Archival materials
  • Citation

    French India Company School Drawings, FSA.A1993.10. National Museum of Asian Art Archives. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Gift of Thomas L. Hughes, 1984-1985.
  • Arrangement

    Organized by subject.
  • Genre/Form

  • Restrictions

    Collection is open for research.

Repository Contact

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
National Museum of Asian Art Archives
Washington, D.C. 20013