Paintings, sculpture and furniture

Quadrangle of the Jami Masjid
Quadrangle of the Jami Masjid, Fatehpur Sikri by William Daniel, 1833. Foster 167.

We hold a rich collection of oil paintings, sculpture and historical furniture from the India Office collections.

About the collection

We hold a rich collection of oil paintings, sculpture and pieces of furniture from the India Office collections. These works were originally commissioned and collected by the East India Company for the London headquarters in Leadenhall Street during the 18th and 19th centuries. One of their most famous commissions was a set of six paintings of the Company's principal factories and stations by George Lambert and Samuel Scott. These were displayed in the newly refurbished Directors' Court Room, along with a magnificent marble fireplace and mantel sculpture by Michael Rysbrack. Other commissions included life-size marble statues of Robert Clive and his contemporaries by Pieter Scheemakers, which adorned the General Court Room.

Across the Library, in the public spaces and reading rooms, commissioned and historic ‘Works of Art’ are on display to enhance Library’s rich history and reflect the universal scope of its collections. Highlights include Eduardo Paolozzi’s statue of ‘Newton’ and R.B. Kitaj’s tapestry ‘If not, not’.

What is available online?

Oil paintings, sculptures, furniture and the British Library ‘Works of Art’ can be found on the India Office Select Materials Catalogue. Please note that this catalogue will be decommissioned in Winter 2015 and integrated with the Archives and Manuscripts catalogue.

The Library’s collection of paintings has been digitised and available to view of BBC Your Paintings.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

India Office oil paintings, sculpture and furniture are restricted due to their fragile nature and special handling requirements. Viewing is by appointment only, Monday to Friday. For appointment details, please email apac-prints@bl.uk

Further information

An extensive collection of reference works about these collections is available on open access in the Asian & African Studies Reading Rooms. Key publications include:

A descriptive catalogue of the paintings, statues, &c., in the India Office, by William Foster, C.I.E. (London, 5th ed., 1924).

The India Office collection of paintings and sculpture, by Mildred Archer (London, 1986).

India Office furniture, by John Hardy (London, 1982).

How to guides

Get a Reader Pass

A guide to how to obtain a British Library Reader Pass to use our reading rooms