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  4.25 Plan of Ootradroog, 1792  


©The British Library (OIOC) , London
Plan of Ootradroog; 1792

Pen and ink, and watercolour on paper
52.5 x 37.05 cm

ROBERT HOME (1752-1834)

obert Home was born in Hull, the son of an army surgeon from Greenlaw in Berwickshire. A professional artist, he had trained under Angelica Kauffman, and worked in Italy (1773-78) and Dublin (1783-89) before leaving for India in 1790 as official war artist to Lord Cornwallis in the Third Mysore War. He arrived in Madras in January 1791, at the same time as Cornwallis, the successor to General Medows as Governal General. On 5th February, the Grand Army moved towards Bangalore, and Home was permitted to follow them. One of the most memorable records of the campaign is Home's painting (March 1791) 'The Death of Colonel Moorhouse at Bangalore,' a composition closely based on West's 'Death of General Wolfe on the Heights of Quebec,' and a strong reminder of the contemporary impact of the American War(1776) and its ideals. After the Treaty of 1792, Home painted 'The Hostage Princes leaving home with the Vakil, Ghulam Ali' as well as the splendid 'Lord Cornwallis Receiving Tipu Sahib's Sons as Hostages at Seringapatam, 1793-94, which has remained one of the icons of the Mysore Wars.

British artists in India were not slow to recognise the commercial potential of any images of the Third Mysore War - a campaign in which Tipu had so nearly out-manoeuvred the British. Thomas Daniell and his nephew, William, who had been travelling in upper India for two years, came south to Madras in March 1792 as the third Mysore War ended. In November, after re-tracing the Grand Army's routes, the Daniells returned to Madras, eager to meet Home, who had actually been in the field. They copied Home's drawings of Tipu's soldiers in their 'tyger' jackets and inspired Home to renew his interest in landscape painting. Two views of Mahaballipuram, which Home visited with the Daniells in January/February 1793, are now in the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta.

In August/September 1793, Arther Devis arrived to make sketches of the hostage princes, and in May 1795, by now a artist of some standing, Home moved to the capital, Calcutta, and finally, in 1814, to the employ of the Nawab of Oudh, where he remained until 1827.

Home's plan of Oootradroog, one of Tipu's grimly inaccessible hill forts, is meticulously drawn. The work of military draughtsmen was to document topography, and Home has carefully recorded and combined a variety of viewpoints. However, this is also an unusually striking and artistic drawing. It was worked up into a finished drawing for publication in Home's 'Select Views in Mysore, the Country of Tippoo Sultan,' published in London and Madras 1794. The detailed descriptions accompanying the beautifully drawn plates have the immediacy and interest of records made in the field, but, as Home clearly states in his Preface, the full historical narrative was left to a fellow Scotsman: 'Asia holds in its bosom natives of Britain who feel more gratification from an increase of knowledge than from an increase of wealth….It is our province to stimulate curiosity, not to gratify it. This we leave to abler pens: and we do it with more staisfaction, as the speedily promised work of Major Dirom will undoubtedly afford a rich banquet to everyone who thirsts after science.'


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