The writer William Dalrymple, a distinguished historian of India and its art (for part of the year he lives near Delhi), curates an exhibition of paintings that were commissioned from Indian artists by British of the East India Company. The works in the show date to the late 18th and 19th centuries, a time that saw Indian artistry in full flower yet also acknowledging European influence. As Dalrymple says, the genre is “sometimes known as ‘company school painting,’ an umbrella term for a wide-range of different sorts of painting, produced by remarkably different artists, for East India Company patrons between about 1770 and the end of the company in 1857 and 8.” It was a period, he adds, “of maximum plunder, loot, and extraction,” but it also saw “quite a surprising degree of interaction—social, sexual, marital. And appreciation, in some quarters, of Indian culture.” The refinement of line is stunning; and the delicacy of detail in a feather, for instance, makes Audubon look slapdash. —L.J.
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