Bengal Army - Portrait of Major Christie
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English School, circa 1795
Overall: 39cm (15.5in) x 32.5cm (12.7in)
Provenance: A Cotswold estate. Traditionally identified as Major Christie of the East India Company Army.
Watercolour on paper. Head and shoulders portrait study of an officer, wearing bicorn hat with gilt button and black cockade, and a red coatee with black facings, gold lace and epaulettes. Inscribed in pencil in possible artist’s shorthand to the left and right of the sitter. Sheet: 24.5cm (9.6in) x 18cm (7.2in).
The only officer by the name of Christie serving in the any of the three East India Company armies in the late 18th century was Brigade Major Charles Christie. His coat with its stand up collar, powdered hair and bicorn hat suggest the portrait sketch was made in the 1780s or early 90s.
Captain Charles Christie arrived in India as a Cadet in 1781, and was commissioned Ensign soon after in the 2nd Bengal Native Infantry. He became Lieutenant in 1783 and Captain in 2/2nd Native Infantry in September 1800. He served in operations in the Jumna Doab in 1803, and, was present at the Battles of Delhi and Agra as brigade major of the 3rd Brigade during the Second Mahratta War under Lord Lake. He was afterwards brigade major at Fatehgarh where he raised a corps of levies which later became the 2/25th Bengal Native Infantry but for many years was known to the sepoys as Cristeen-ki-Paltan (Christie’s Platoon).