In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations.
Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practiced in India for 3,000 years with plants being used to treat ailments from skin complaints, wounds and stomach ache to internal bleeding, malaria and epilepsy.
These rare and scientifically valuable drawings are a testament to the company’s contribution to the advancement of botanical science. Surviving records of wages and the pigments and papers are used help tell the story of the artists and their specialist techniques.
Made possible by the generosity of Arts Council England’s PRISM Fund and the Finnis Scott Foundation, the exhibitions opens on Saturday 11 June and runs through to Sunday 11 September. Entry to Flower Power: Botanical illustrations from India is free.
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