Click here to skip to content

India and Southeast Asia: British drawings

Most of the drawings in the Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections are by European artists. They mainly depict the countries of South Asia, but also include images of England, St. Helena, South Africa, Abyssinia, Afghanistan, Tibet, Burma, Ceylon, China, Southeast Asia and Central Asia.

Fort at Allahabad

View of the fort at Allahabad from the west, watercolour by Captain Robert Smith, Bengal Engineers, c. 1814. WD 2087. Copyright © The British Library Board


Among the professional artists whose drawings we hold are Thomas and William Daniell, Henry Salt, George Chinnery, William Simpson and Edward Lear. Other works were by professional draftsmen and surveyors like Robert Home and Robert Smith. Others, like Colin Mackenzie, employed teams of draftsmen to produce vast numbers of drawings bound into albums. One of the most important of these is the Amaravati Album

The majority of the pictures, however, are by amateur artists who took up drawing for pleasure. Although referred to in our catalogues as 'amateurs', such artists were highly skilled in their craft. Sir Charles D'Oyly, Frances Eden and various members of the talented Prinsep family count amongst this prestigious list of amateur artists.

Drawings acquired before 1994 are described in our three volume printed catalogue of British Drawings. Separate drawings are mounted and numbered individually as Western Drawings (WD). Bound volumes or albums are given separate numbers which in turn are subdivided by folio numbers, e.g. WD 152, ff. 1-46. Some drawings are part of items from the India Office Private Papers. In such instances, the prefix Mss.Eur appears on the shelfmark.

Online Catalogue


Prints, Drawings and Photographs Section
Asia, Pacific and Africa Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7856/7327/7663
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641