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  3.25 Lord Cornwallis Receiving the Sons of Tipu as Hostages  


©The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham
Lord Cornwallis Receiving the Sons of Tipu as Hostages; 1792

Oil sketch, in two parts, on metal plate
37.9 x 25.9 cm

MATHER BROWN 1761-1831

rticle 2 of the Treaty of Seringapatam in 1792 declared 'That the two sons of Tippoo Sultaun shall be detained as hostages till the stipulated sum to be paid at three instalments, not exceeding 4 months each, shall be discharged - On payment thereof, and the cession of one half the country and release of the prisoners - the said two sons shall be immediately dismissed.'

By comparison with a sepia drawing in the British Library (OIOC) London (WD 3138), this oil sketch has been identified as the work of Mather Brown. Glass paintings of c.1815, 'After prints from the paintings by Mather Brown,' indicate that the subject was still popular well into the 19th- century. The related oil painting was listed in the Rosebery sale at Christie's 5 May 1939 and a small version, in oil on metal, appeared in the salerooms in 1999.

Scenes of the surrender of the young Princes certainly appealed to the public. The Scotsman, Major Dirom, notes that 'The eldest boy, rather dark in his colour, with thick lips, a small flattish nose, and a long thoughtful countenance, was less admired that the youngest, who is remarkably fair, with regular features, a small round face, large full eyes, and a more animated appearance.' Artists working in India, such as Arthur Devis, John Zoffany and John Smart, all painted versions of the scene, although the only artist actually present was Robert Home. Meanwhile in England, James Northcote, Thomas Stotthard, Henry Singleton and Mather Brown, who had not once visited India , created their own images in response to public demand. Within a year of the Treaty of 1792, Mather Brown had completed three oil paintings commemorating episodes in the 3rd Mysore War, showing Tipu's sons leaving the Zenana; the royal children delivering the peace treaty to Lord Cornwallis; and Lord Cornwallis receiving the two sons as hostages. Engravings of the latter were not published until January 1799, although the Morning Courier of Tuesday 19 March 1793 announced that King George III, having seen the paintings, 'gave permission for the Engraving from the Great Picture which represents the Introduction of the Hostage Princes to be dedicated to His Majesty.' The paintings were afterwards brought from Buckingham House to the Morland Gallery, Old Bond Steet, where they were placed on public display.

A notice in The Oracle or 4th April 1793, describes the painted landscape with Abercromby's camp in the background, and the bastions of Seringapatam, heavy with ordnance. The notice also lists the main participants depicted, including Major Dirom and Major Madan, ADC to Lord Cornwallis 'who furnished Mr Brown with all particulars by express direction of Henry Dundas, one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State.' Reference is also made to a State Carpet, exhibited with the Picture, which was apparently used by Tipu in Durbar, and was taken at the Fall of Bangalore, in 1791.


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