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An East India Company School Miniature of an Officer of the 31st Bengal Light Infantry, 1858
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An East India Company School Miniature of an Officer of the 31st Bengal Light Infantry, 1858

Measurements: Overall: 13.2cm (5.1in) x 10.8cm (4.25in)

£1200

Enquire

An East India Company School Miniature of an Officer of the 31st Bengal Light Infantry, 1858

Overall: 13.2cm (5.1in) x 10.8cm (4.25in)
£1200

Watercolour. Half length portrait of an officer shown seated wearing scarlet coatee with gold lace collar, bullion wings and the newly decreed light infantry cross belt with rifle corps bugle horn badge, whistle and regimental shoulder belt plate.

The present portrait bears the hallmarks of the Company School of painting, such being the nomenclature of Indian paintings rendered by indigenous artists under the patronage of the officials of the East India Company (active 1600-1874). The unidentified sitter can be classed as an officer whose troops felt themselves understood in matters of religious practice and caste, and thus resisted the temptations to join the Mutiny of the Army in May 1857 and join the wider Indian Rebellion.

The 31st Bengal Native Infantry later became the 7th Queen’s Own Rajputs - one of the oldest and most distinguished infantry regiments in the British Indian Army. It traced its origins back to 1798, and, as the 31st B.N.I., carried all before it in the Lord Lake’s campaign against the Mahrattas in 1803-05, helping to establish the high reputation of the East India Company armies. At the siege of Bhurtpore in 1806, it lost half its strength in a forlorn attempt to storm the hundred foot high walls but nevertheless planted its Colours on the ramparts. Twenty years later when the East India Company revisited Bhurtpore, the sepoys of the 31st attached the remnants of the Colours their fathers had followed in 1806 to the new ones and avenged the lives lost with the successful storm of the fortress. For many sepoys, family and regimental tradition were as one. When the Indian Mutiny broke out in 1857, the 31st were at Saugor and determinedly resisted attempts by other troops to subvert them. One native officer in charge of a party of the 31st and on a mission some days march from Saugor even arrested mutineers from another corps and returned them to their barracks for punishment. As a reward for the regiment’s loyalty in the Mutiny it was granted the distinctions of a rifle regiment becoming the 31st Bengal Light Infantry in 1858.




 

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