Album of 'Company' paintings of occupations and festivals, Southern India

Scope and Content

The style of production and subject-matter of 'Company' albums were adapted to European taste and commonly depicted flora and fauna, local communities, monuments, festivals, deities and craft industries. This set includes many figures thought to be familiar to European travellers and residents in southern India: a bird-seller, ironsmith, stonecutter, coppersmith, basket-maker, and religious mendicant. There are also images of marriage and funeral ceremonies, and a series of Hindu, Muslim and Catholic festivals and processions. There are also scenes showing buildings in Pondicherry. Watercolour on paper, H22 x W35cm. English captions.

Additional reading:

'Painting Processions: The Social and Religious Landscape of Southern India in a 'Company' Album', by Crispin Branfoot (SOAS), in Orientations: The Magazine for Collectors and Connoisseurs of Asian Art, Volume 38, Number 8, November/December 2007

Administrative / Biographical History

William Thompson was born on 23 May 1811. He was appointed to Bellary with the London Missionary Society in 1836, arriving at Madras on 29 Dec 1836, and Bellary on 1 Feb 1837. He married Jessie Wardlaw in 1840. In Aug 1844, he proceeded to Madras to superintend the preparation of the new Kanarese type.After the death of his wife on 23 Feb 1849, he returned to England. Having accepted the Pastorate at Union Chapel, Cape Town, his connection with the Society ceased, but he was appointed Agent for the South African Missions of the Society. He arrived in Cape Town on 24 June 1850. He went on to become the General Treasurer for the South African missions, and a Commissioner for the preparation and management of the "Missionary Institutions' Act" of the Cape legislature. He ceased to act as Agent of the Society in March 1888. He died at Cape Town on 8 May 1889. His son, Ralph Wardlaw Thompson, became Foreign Secretary of the Society in 1881.

Conditions Governing Access


Custodial History

The album was formerly owned by Rev William Thompson.