Collection online

painting / album

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Opaque watercolour painting on European paper of a man, sporting a mutton-chop moustache, apparently wearing a lungi and a long, loose jacket with a diaphanous shawl and a turban. Small earrings in the helix of his ears and bracelets complete his attire. On his forehead is a Vaishnava namam (emblem). A sword hangs from his left shoulder. His wife wears a sari covering her bare chest and is adorned with a number of jewels. In the background are plants and shrubs.


  • School/style

  • Date

    • 1830-1835 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 18.2 centimetres
    • Width: 11.3 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        lower border
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

        A Teligen Jetty, or wrestler and Sword Player
      • Inscription Comment

        The Jettis mentioned in the caption are a Telugu class of professional wrestlers.
  • Curator's comments

    Dallapiccola 2010:
    This painting is part of a set of ninety-two drawings depicting various Indian castes and occupations. An explanatory caption in English, written in a flowing early nineteenth-century hand, accompanies the majority of the drawings. Their repertoire covers a vast range of castes from the Telugu Brahmins to the Boyis and occupations from the astrologer to the jailer, interspersed with a colourful array of religious mendicants, acrobats and musicians. Of particular interest is a drawing of a private soldier (1884,0913,0.74), of the Private Grenadier Company of the 1st Madras Native Infantry, dressed in a uniform of the early 1820s, which helps to date the album to the early decades of the nineteenth century. This date is confirmed by the presence of a portrait of Serfoji II, raja of Thanjavur (r. 1798–1832), and his wife in this volume (1884,0913,0.44). In depicting the faces of his characters the artist consistently uses a ‘miniaturist technique’, i.e. minute dots of colour; the chin, forehead and nose areas are lightly shaded to suggest plasticity. The rendering of textiles, costumes and jewellery reveals a documentary precision and care for detail. The figures are slender and elegant rather than imposing, and the background is no longer monochrome: either the paper is left plain or in some cases a line of trees and shrubs dots the line of the horizon. The foreground is sometimes green, suggesting perhaps a meadow, or a very pale brownish wash but most frequently a dark, heavy looped shadow is attached to the feet of the figures.


  • Bibliography

    • Dallapiccola 2010 cat.15.55 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


Album leaf. Portrait. A wrestler or sword-player and his wife. Painted on paper (European).

Album leaf. Portrait. A wrestler or sword-player and his wife. Painted on paper (European).

Image description



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: 

View open data for this object with SPARQL endpoint

Object reference number: RFI571

British Museum collection data is also available in the W3C open data standard, RDF, allowing it to join and relate to a growing body of linked data published by organisations around the world.

View this object

Support the Museum:
donate online

The Museum makes its collection database available to be used by scholars around the world. Donations will help support curatorial, documentation and digitisation projects.

About the database

The British Museum collection database is a work in progress. New records, updates and images are added every week.

More about the database 


Work on this database is supported by a range of sponsors, donors and volunteers.

More about supporters and how you
can help