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India Office Paintings Sculpture and Works of Art Collection

Collection Details

India Office Paintings Sculpture and Works of Art Collection held at Asian and African Studies [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

OIOC holds many oil paintings, sculptures, pieces of furniture and historic objects connected with the historyof the East India Company and of the India Office building. Everything from life size paintings and marble statues to hat stands and blunderbusses are found amongst this distinctive set of items. A selection of the most interesting large portraits hangs in the OIOC Reading Room, and a changing selection of the smaller items in the Print Room.

The historic furniture associated with the Directors' Court Room in East India House, which was moved to the Council Chamber of the India Office, is part of this collection, as is a selection of pattern piece guns used as specimens by arms manufacturers, as well as swords and bayonets etc.

History and development

Many of the items were commissioned by to the East India Company in the 18th century to adorn their premises in Leadenhall Street, including paintings of the Company's eastern stations and life size marble statues of its famous servants. The Company also received many paintings as gifts, including portraits of oriental rulers and landscape paintings of Indian monuments. The historic collections were transferred to decorate the India Office in Whitehall, where further acquisitions were made.



General arrangement and access regulations

All sculpture, oil paintings, furniture and historic objects are accessed by F (Foster) numbers. Those not on display are stored in the Paintings Store, accessible to readers by arrangement. Some of the larger pieces are still in the old India Office building (now the FCO), while a few are on long term loan elsewhere, all viewable by arrangement.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

East Asia, Near & Middle East and North Africa, South Asia.


Archaeology, Arts, History, International relations, Politics and government, Recreation, Religion, Travel, Women.

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

167 paintings, 46 sculptures, 42 pieces of furniture, 70 miscellaneous objects.

Collection Management Information

The collection is being actively developed, and the average intake has stayed the same.

Annual intake

A few items per annum

Content date range

1630 to 1950 AD

Collection Catalogue Information


Printed catalogues exist for acquisitions up to the 1970s. Subsequent acquisitions are catalogued in a dedicated computerised database in the OIOC Reading Room. This is now available on-line at

Collection printed catalogues

A Descriptive Catalogue of the Paintings, Statues, &c., in the India Office.
Foster, William.
London, 1924.
5th ed.

The India Office Collection of Paintings and Sculpture.
Archer, Mildred.
London, 1986.

India Office Furniture.
Hardy, John.
London, 1982.

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