fter the Treaty of Paris (1763), the French could no longer
dream of an empire in India. However, they retained five
trading posts there, and continued to espouse any opportunity
of extending their influence, especially at the expense
of the British. After supporting the colonists in the American
War of Independence (1776), the French now aspired to expel
the British from India. To this end, St Lubin considered
an alliance with the Marathas in return for a port on the
West coast of India; Louis XVI and Madhu
Rao Narayan signed a treaty of alliance in 1782 which
brought the great Bussy to the Ille de France (Mauritius).
The French Admiral, De Suffren, met Haidar Ali, and ceremonially
presented him with a portrait of Louis XVI. The Treaty of
Versailles (1783) halted Tipu's attempts to recover Mangalore
from the British, but in 1786, he was able to dispatch an
embassy to Constantinople and thence to Paris, although
this second stage had to be abandoned. Impatiently, Tipu
dispatched another embassy direct to Paris in July 1787.
The three ambassadors, Mohammed Dervich Khan, Akbar Ali
Khan and Mohammad Osman Khan arrived
at the port of Toulon with M.Monneron, a French merchant
from Pondicherry. A delightful souvenir of this event is
a lady's fan, decorated with a hand-coloured etching depicting
the ambassadors disembarking. The printed text on the reverse
proclaims (in translation from the French) : 'Tipou-Saeb
has remained too long unknown. Let us share his glory, hear
of his exploits and sing of his victories.' It was not until
late August 1788 that Louis XVI granted the ambassadors
an audience in the Salon d'Hercules at the Palace of Versailles.
Emile Wattier's original drawing for this scene survives
in the Archives of the Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres.
It was one of a series of designs for Sèvres plaques, which
would decorate an elaborate bureau -sécretaire. The decorative
scheme included scenes from the history of the Palace of
Versailles, and the life of Louis
XVI, including the visit of Benjamin Franklin to Paris.
A surviving plaster plaquette, depicting the reception of
Tipu's Ambassadors, includes in the scene two Scotsmen of
the Guarde de la Manche. The bureau-secretaire, which is
still at Versailles, was exhibited at the Salon d'Industrie
in Paris on 1st January 1830, although the Tipu Ambassadors
panel was omitted from the final design.