India, Calcutta, Kalighat painting, 19th century
Black ink, watercolor, and tin paint, with graphite underdrawing on paper
Secondary Support - h:48.00 w:29.50 cm (h:18 7/8 w:11 9/16 inches)
Painting only - h:45.70 w:28.00 cm (h:17 15/16 w:11 inches)
Gift of William E. Ward in memory of his wife, Evelyn Svec Ward
This is an archetypal satirical caricature of an native Indian clerk (babu), a Bengali dapper dandy whose fashion sense combines British and Indian mores with dissonant results. Imitating his British masters, he sits cross-legged on a Victorian chair, holding a hookah, sporting a Prince Albert hairstyle, and wearing European buckled shoes. His posture models popular photo studio portraits of the time. Kalighat painters ridiculed these vain babus as foppish nouveau riche.