ITP Research Support Grant awarded to Joyee Roy (India, ITP 2011)

Joyee Roy, a museum professional from Kolkata, India for 23 years among which she served as a Documentation Officer in Victoria Memorial Hall, Kolkata for 19 years and as a Guide/Cataloguer in Rabindra Bharati University Museum for 4 years. She attended ITP Summer Programme in 2011. 

The title of her research is ‘A comparative study on styles, techniques and themes between two categories (On spot and Stay at home) of depictions on India by the British artists of 18th and 19th centuries’. Through her research work, she intends to pursue a comparative study on styles, techniques and themes between two categories of depictions by the British artists of 18th and 19th centuries; 1) The artists who came to India to do truthful records of India on spot with primary sources and 2) The artists who never came to India but tried hard to depict the country truthfully by staying at home with secondary sources.

Through her research project, by examining drawings, prints and engravings of that period on Indian theme, she wishes to find out whether the above mentioned two categories of depictions are equally truthful and done with similar fairness and accuracy or not. Distinguished Art Historian, Emma Roberts complained that “drawings made in India, and sent to England to be engraved, are subject to much deterioration in the process from the negligence of persons wholly unacquainted with the peculiarities of the country, to whom they are entrusted.”

Joyee Roy

In spite of these limitations, there was a huge demand for competent professional ‘Stay at Home’ British artists during 18th and19th centuries. There were a number of English artists who acquired a reputation for the ‘translation’ of water colours made in India.

Thus her research project has a huge potential to find out many interesting and unknown aspects. Moreover, to date there is no complete work or publication based on this aspect. Therefore, there is an obvious need to pursue a detailed study on it.

Joyee mentioned that as part of ITP summer programme, she visited the Prints & Drawings Study Room of the British Museum and there she found a few drawings and paintings on Indian themes by J.M.W. Turner and George Stubbs – two authorities of British art of 18th and 19th centuries who never went India. That experience increased her curiosity about how they depicted India without going there and why they did it? Thus, the BM’s Prints & Drawings Study Room influenced her to choose her research topic in the future.

Also her research builds on her ITP summer programme experience very much. During the ITP summer programme, she met colleagues from different countries and came to know that same aspect would be experienced in these countries also. British artists also depicted those countries during their time there. Therefore, Joyee wants to find out the similar aspects in different countries by connecting and sharing thoughts with colleagues of the ITP. Thus she wants to add a new dimension the her research topic with the help of the vast ITP global network and definitely it will benefit the wider ITP network.