Six Recruits, folio from the Fraser Album

Artist: Attributed to the family of Ghulam Ali Khan (active 1817–1855)
Historical period(s)
Company School
Watercolor, ink and gold on Whatman paper (watermarked 1814)
H x W: 25.3 x 39.4 cm (9 15/16 x 15 1/2 in)
India, Delhi, or Haryana state
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf with painting

India, portrait

To 1835
William Fraser (1784-1835), India and Scotland, to 1835 [1]

From 1935 to 1980
The Fraser family, Scotland, by descent from William Fraser, from 1835 to 1980 [2]

Sale, Sotheby's, London, "Fine Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures," July 7, 1980 [3]

To 1999
Francesca Galloway, London, to 1999

From 1999
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, purchased from Francesca Galloway in 1999


[1] On July 7, 1980, the sale of "Fine Oriental Manuscripts and Miniatures" at Sotheby's, London, included "seventy-seven lots of company drawings and miniatures from the collection of William Fraser (1784-1835)," works that had been in the possession of the Fraser family in Scotland since William Fraser was assassinated in 1835 by Kareem Khan, acting under orders from Shamsud-din, Nawab of Firozpur. William Fraser was the younger brother of the amateur artist James Baillie Fraser, and served in India as a secretary to Sir David Ochterlony and then Mountstuart Elphinstone. A history of the Fraser family, and a thorough discussion of these illustrations, was subsequently published (see Mildred Archer and Toby Falk, India Revealed: the Art and Adventures of James and William Fraser, 1801-35 (London: Cassell, 1989).

"Six Recruits" was included in the sale among forty-five Company school watercolors executed in Delhi and during an expedition by William Fraser (alongside Col. James Skinner) to the Himalayas in 1815-19. Col. Skinner employed the artist Ghulam 'Ali Khan to document the recruits he was gathering to serve among his troops (according to Curatorial Remark 1, Milo C. Beach, January 14, 1999, in the object record). See also, Provenance Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Francesca Galloway
James Baillie Fraser 1783-1856


Ghulam Ali Khan is widely recognized as the great master among Company School painters. His exceptional rendering and sympathetic characterizations document Indian soldiers not as exotic types but as distinct individuals—from the swaggering Rajput in regimentals (second from left) to the almost fragile youths in village dress.

Published References
  • Kabir Jhala. Rare outing for East India Company art at London's Wallace Collection. .
  • Katherine J. Wu. London Exhibit Celebrates Indian Artists Who Captured Natural History for the East India Company. .
  • Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India. Exh. cat. London. p. 163, fig. 99.
  • Milo Cleveland Beach. The Imperial Image: Paintings for the Mughal Court., 2nd ed. Washington and Ahmedabad, India, 2012. cat. 60B, p. 191.
Collection Area(s)
South Asian and Himalayan Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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