Bengal River Fish

Object Name: Illustrated single work

Date: ca. 1804

Geography: India

Culture: Islamic

Medium: Pencil, opaque watercolor, watercolor, and gold on paper

Dimensions: Painting: H. 15 1/16 (38.3 cm)
W. 21 1/8 in. (53.7 cm)
Mat (Standard frame C): H. 22 1/4 (56.5 cm)
W. 28 1/8 in. (71.4 cm)

Classification: Codices

Credit Line: Louis E. and Theresa S. Seley Purchase Fund for Islamic Art, 2004

Accession Number: 2004.176


This painting shows two views of a Bengal river fish, executed on paper in pencil and watercolor with traces of gilding. The twin images of each side of the fish are placed by one another, the upper image in a dark gray tone and the lower one in a paler shade of the same color. The mottled, scaly surface of the fish’s body is carefully rendered, as are its mouth and eyes. The painting is from the collection of Marquis Wellesley, governor-general of India from 1798 to 1805. Wellesley had large menageries and hired native artists to paint each of the birds and animals in them.