London: On Wednesday, a richly painted painting representing Mysore monarch Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan’s famous triumph over the East India Company in 1780 went under the hammer in London for a stunning 630,000 pounds (Rs 6.32 crore).
The centrepiece of Sotheby’s auction house’s Arts of the Islamic World and India sale was ‘The Battle of Pollilur,’ which took place on September 10, 1780 as part of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Tipu Sultan had commissioned a painting of the War of Pollilur as part of a massive mural for the newly-built Daria Daulat Bagh at Seringapatam in 1784 as a visual record of the battle and to commemorate his triumph.
“What this painting has is the terror and anarchy and violence of battle.
It’s arguably the greatest Indian picture of the defeat of colonialism that survives. It’s unique and fantastic artwork,” said Sotheby’s expert William Dalrymple, author of ‘The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company’.”Tipu Sultan was probably the most effective opponent that the East India Company ever faced. Tipu showed that the Indians could fight back, that they could win. the first time that a European army is defeated in India is this Battle of Pollilur,” he explains the complete panorama sold this week, comfortably beating its lowest guide price of 500,000 pounds.
According to Mughal historian Ghulam Husain Khan, the painting covers ten large sheets of paper and is nearly 32 feet long. It focuses on the moment when the East India Company’s ammunition tumbril explodes, breaking the British square, while Tipu’s cavalry advances from left and right, “like waves of an angry sea.”
Tipu Sultan, also known as the Tiger of Mysore, inflicted the most “crushing loss” on the East India Company at Pollilur, and the picture portrays the “sheer energy” of that victory.
Another highlight of the auction was “A gem-set and enamelled gold shiel” from 19th century Jaipur, which sold for 258,300 pounds after outperforming its reference price range of 40,000 to 60,000 pounds.
“This magnificent shield must have been crafted to commemorate a specific event,” Sotheby’s said. “Several shields were presented to the Prince of Wales during his visit to India in 1875-76, all luxuriously enamelled and set with precious stone.” “The roundels’ colour scheme and designs are akin to contemporary Jaipur craftsmanship,” it claimed.