ORME, Daniel (1766 - c. 1832) after Mather BROWN (1761-1831)
...The Delivery of the Definitive Treaty by the Hostage Princes into the Hands of Lord Cornwallis
London: Daniel Orme, 1793. Color printed stipple engraving with additional hand-coloring. Very good condition. Sheet size: 20 x 24 3/4 inches.
Provenance: The Charlotte Moss Collection
Exquisite colour-printed stipple engraving
Benjamin West, born in America, emigrated to London where he established a new genre in British painting: historical tableaux in contemporary dress. This became remarkably popular and high quality prints were made of these paintings commemorating important events past and present. Mather Brown (descendant of Increase Mather, the Boston Puritan minister) left Boston in 1781 to study with West and became one of the leading practitioners of celebratory British historical painting.
During the late 1780's and throughout the 1790's, Brown collaborated with a number of engravers to make fine prints of important events and people in England's long ascent of greatness. Daniel Orme, who had come to London in the 1780's with his brothers William and Edward from Manchester, was the most talented of Brown's engravers.
The incident depicted occurred in 1792. Lord Cornwallis (1738-1805) was the Governor General of the British East India Company, essentially Governor of India. He had participated in the Third Anglo-Mysore War in southwestern India against Tipu Sultan, and compelled Tipu to sue for peace. Cornwallis had asked for and received two of Tipu's sons as hostages to guarantee the performance of the terms of the agreement. Several weeks later the treaty was delivered and was handed, as shown, to Cornwallis by the elder of the two boys.
The genre that Benjamin West established had at its crux the evocation of ennobling emotions. This of course was especially true of the works in which military leaders died in battle, most famously Wolfe at Quebec. In this instance, the elevating sentiment has to do with the benevolent and paternal role Cornwallis had played in bringing peace with honor through firmness and the highest moral standards. Implied in the scene is the idea that though the adult Tipu Sultan (and other hostile Indian rajahs) were beyond redemption due to their treacherous and pugnacious natures, the next generation could and would be saved, and Pax Britannica achieved.
Cornwallis's period as Governor General laid the foundations in some respects for the future unified Indian state in establishing civil and criminal legal codes, circuit and appeals courts, a university for the study of Sanskrit,a standard currency and tax reforms.