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Room: 1780-1810

This video brought to you by Tate.org.uk

Curator Greg Sullivan explores the period 1780-1810.

Learn more about the art featured in this video:
- Philip James De Loutherbourg, The Battle of Camperdown, 1799
- Thomas Daniell, Sir Charles Warre Malet, Concluding a Treaty in 1790 in Durbar with the Peshwa of the Maratha Empire, 1805
- Johan Zoffany, Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Match, 1784–6.
Created by Tate.

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Video transcript

1780 to 1810 was a very war like period in British History and this is reflected in the art throughout out the room. On the one hand, there was the expansion of territory in the Indian sub-continent and then there was 20 years of war with France during the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars. We are looking now at the painting by De Loutherbourg of ‘The Battle of Camperdown’ 1797. It’s a maritime piece depicting the moment when the British defeat the Dutch fleet who were then allied with the French during the Revolutionary wars. It’s an interesting painting because not only does it represent the moment in which the Dutch ceased to be the great sea-faring nation and the British take over but it’s also an act of taking over a maritime painting from the Dutch by the British and this big dramatic scene of the British going on is part of the Nationalism that you see a long way around this room. We’re looking at a painting by Thomas Daniel, which represents Charles Warre Malet negotiating a treaty with the Peshwar of the Maratha Empire in Durbar and the figure in the centre here, is Malet himself, who was also the commissioner of the painting, and it’s really a grand scale history painting which is intended to commemorate his greatest political achievement. I suppose what’s most interesting about this picture though, is that it was made from drawings made by a draftsman who was there at the time the treaty was completed and the artist, Thomas Daniel, has been able to introduce a whole lot of colourful motifs which are beyond what would have been a part of British art beforehand. In particular, the paintings across the top here and the interesting architecture. But if that’s a rather po-faced approach to studying Indian History This is perhaps a much greater example of what an artist was capable of working in the Indian sub-continent. It’s a painting by Johann Zoffany of ‘Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match’ and it actually depicts a cock match taking place at the court of this man here who was the now Asaf-ud-Daula and in the foreground, you can see these two cocks ripping each other to pieces for the enjoyment of this selection of guys and its something of an invocation of the seediness of the ex-pat community there. What you can see is the now Asaf-ud-daula arguing with Colonel John Mordaunt who worked for the East India company and who organised his entertainment and the two of them are arguing over a bet which is being counted off on his fingers here. But also hidden amongst the spectators at this cock match is Zoffany himself holding his pencil.