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  3.21 Lord Cornwallis Receiving Tipu Sahib's Sons as Hostages at Seringapatam  

©National Army Museum, London
Lord Cornwallis Receiving Tipu Sahib's Sons as Hostages at Seringapatam; 1793-4

Oil on canvas
149.2 x 202.5 cm

ROBERT HOME (1752-1834)

t the end of the third Mysore War the British exacted harsh terms from Tipu: the loss of nearly half his territory, payment of a large reparation, and the surrender of two of his sons Abdul Khalik and Moiz-Ud-Din, as hostages. They were delivered to Lord Cornwallis at Seringapatam on 26 February 1792 and the Madras Council voted 1,663 pagodas for their accommodation in the fort at Madras.

The artist has included a portrait of himself in the composition: he stands in the left foreground, holding a portfolio. In the distance, the tents of the British encampment are visible. Robert Home was official war artist for the 3rd Mysore War, and the son of a Scotsman from Berwick. Another Scotsman, Major Dirom, who also served in the 3rd Mysore War, published his comprehensive 'Narrative' of the campaign in 1793. In it, he describes this momentous event in vivid detail:

'On the 26th about noon, the Princes left the fort, which appeared to be manned as they went out, and every where crouded (sic) with people, who, from curiosity or affection, had come to see them depart. The Sultan himself, was on the rampart above the gateway. They were saluted by the fort on leaving it, and with twenty-one guns from the park as they approached our camp, where the part of the line they passed, was turned out to receive them. The vakeels conducted them to the tents which had been sent from the fort for their accommodation, and pitched near the mosque redoubt, where they were met by Sir John Kennaway, the Mahratta and Nizam's vakeels, and from thence accompanied by them to head quarters.

The Princes were each mounted on an elephant richly caparisoned, and seated in a silver howder (sic), and were attended by their father's vakeels, and the persons already mentioned, also on elephants. The procession was led by several camel harcarras, and seven standard-bearers, carrying small green flags suspended from rockets, followed by one hundred pikemen, with spears inlaid with silver. Their guard of two hundred Sepoys, and a party of horse, brought up the rear. In this order they approached head quarters, where the battalion of Bengal Sepoys, commanded by Captain Welch, appointed for their guard, formed a street to receive them.'

Dirom's text continues with a perceptive description of Tipu's young sons.

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