There’s a certain ingrained animosity to India’s relationship with the British. Their reign in the country there was undeniably an era of progress and invention, but at the end of the day, asking people to show gratitude to their invaders and enslavers is a bit too much to ask. However, it was also a time of great pomp and ceremony which is exactly the emotion artist, Alfred Crowdy Lovett aimed to capture in his illustrations for the book The Armies of India.
The book was published in the early 1900’s by which time Lovett himself had served in the British army for three decades. He served in Karachi and lived in Pune, Ahmednagar and Mumbai between 1883 and 1893, but throughout his service, he continued to paint. Though he was never considered a professional artist, his realistic, colourful portrait captured the interest of many people and earned Lovett high praise.
The copious text in the book was provided by another army man, George Fletcher Macmunn, an already established author who outlined the formation and trajectory of the British army in India. He describes how a disorganised, scraggly band of men in the mid 18th century transformed into a well-oiled military unit. And as the story unfolds, Lovett takes you on a visual journey that delves into this fascinating society and unveils their hidden secrets.