A British Officer of a Madras Sepoy Battalion, 1769 (c)

Carl Christoph Adam, Baron von Imhoff

 
A British Officer of a Madras Sepoy Battalion, 1769 (c)
4 0 c m
 
35cm
actual image size: 27cm x 32cm

A British Officer of a Madras Sepoy Battalion, possibly Captain Mathias Calvert (1733-1779), attended by a young sepoy or servant, 1769 (c).

Oil on canvas, attributed to Carl Christoph Adam, Baron von Imhoff (d 1800 (c)).

Whilst this portrait has a provenance to the Jolland family and some family resembance, Jolland is now thought unlikely to be the subject. Recent research has shown that he never served in any sepoy battalion. In fact he was in the Madras European Regiment, which wore scarlet or red at this time, as did all the sepoy battalions from 1769.

For several reasons, the strongest alternative candidate for the sitter is Captain Mathias Calvert (1733-1779). Firstly, his 14th Battalion of Coast Sepoys was one of four which wore green jackets with red facings in 1767-68. Secondly, the hill in the background closely resembles the distinctive domed rock of Ambur on the Palar river, Madras. It was here that Calvert's battalion held out against the vast armies of Mysore and Hyderabad in 1767, earning the honorary title 'The Amboor Battalion'. Certainly, Calvert was in Madras at the same time as Imhoff. Also, he owned a slave boy called John and the young man in sepoy's uniform wears a chain across his right shoulder, which is sometimes a sign of slavery.

Image Details

Negative No.
 
914
Accession No.
 
NAM. 1957-10-44-1

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