Asian Lesser False Vampire Bat

Historical period(s)
ca. 1790
Company School
Watercolor on paper
H x W (overall): 41.9 x 52.1 cm (16 1/2 x 20 1/2 in)
India, West Bengal state, Kolkata (Calcutta)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Arthur M. Sackler Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

bat, India
Provenance research underway.

For the British men and women who went to India, the study of natural history was both scientific inquiry and fashionable pastime. They trained Indian artists, often skilled court painters seeking new patronage, to record the country's flora and fauna with scientific precision.

The elegantly composed watercolor of a bat was commissioned by Major James Nathaniel Rind (died 1814) of the Eighteenth Native Infantry. The artist, whose name is unknown, masterfully captured the bat's downy fur and delicate veins as he transformed the Asian false vampire bat's fierce appearance into one of quite charming appeal.

Published References
  • Indian and Southeast Asian Art, Thursday, June 17, 1993. New York, 1993. Lot 169.
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. p. 89.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 59, p. 189.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.