Posted on: 8 March 2014

Mixing of the opium, Patna, ca.1857
By Shiva Lal

Painting; gouache on mica.

This Company Painting (a painting made by an Indian artist for the British in India) is done on mica (talc) and comes from a series of nineteen illustrating processes in the manufacture of opium at the opium factory at Gulzarbagh in Patna, Bihar. According to the artist Ishwari Prasad, his grandfather, Shiva Lal (c.1817-1887), began to make the designs for these paintings in 1857. They were commissioned by Dr D. R. Lyall (the personal assistant in charge of opium-making) for a series of wall paintings in the Gulzarbagh factory. However, Lyall was killed in 1857, during the so-called Indian Mutiny, and the scheme was abandoned.

This picture shows the opium being mixed in a large, square wooden vat.

Copyright: © V&A Images

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