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  3.36 Major-General Baird Discovering the Body of Tippoo Sultaun at Seringapatam  


©The Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh
(National War Museum of Scotland)
Major-General Baird and Col. The Hon. Arthur Wellesley Discovering the Body of Tippoo Sultaun at Seringapatam on 4th May 1799; 1799-1802

Oil on canvas
74.2 x 97.8 cm

ARTHUR WILLIAM DEVIS (1763-1822)

n his report to General Harris, the Commander-in-Chief, on the taking of Seringapatam, Baird wrote : 'I now proceeded to search the palace accompanied by Lt Col Close and Major Allan taking care however to avoid the zenana … In the palace we found a man who on being severely threatened said that the Sultaun was killed in attempting to escape through the northern sally port … we accordingly proceeded thither and under a slaughtered heap of several hundreds had the pleasure to discover the body of the Sultaun. He had been shot through the head and body and was quite dead.' Another account of the event is provided by Major Allan himself, and transcribed in full as an Appendix to the narrative of his fellow Scotsman, Major Beatson.

'When Tippoo was bought from under the gateway his eyes were open and the body was so warm, that for a few moments Col. Wellesley and myself were doubtful whether he was not alive; on feeling his pulse and heart all doubt was removed. ……His dress consisted of a jacket of fine white linen, loose drawers of flowered chintz, with a crimson cloth of silk and cotton round his waist; a handsome pouch with a red and green silk belt hung across his shoulder; his head was uncovered his turban being lost in the confusion of his fall; he had an amulet on his arm, but no ornament whatever.' Allan also adds a brief description of Tipu's physiognomy and concludes: 'he had an appearance of dignity or perhaps of sternness in his countenance, which denoted him above the common order of people.'

Other paintings of this event include Wilkie's posthumous portrait of Baird at the scene, and a copy by C A Neve (1828) at Thisted, Denmark of Ker Porter's version, known only from Reynolds engraving, published in August 1800. Ker Porter's painting may have inspired Devis to produce his version.


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