Although Wellesley had begun to collect and be sent birds and animals as early as 1800, he saw the study of the fauna of India as so important that '...to enlarge the boundaries of general science is a duty imposed on the British Government in India by its present exalted situation' (R. M. Martin, Despatches, London 1836-40, iv. 674). However, the East India Company did not share his enthusiasm and in 1804 he founded an 'Institute for Promoting the Natural History of India' with a menagerie and aviary at Barrackpore, appointing as its first Superintendent, Dr Francis Buchanan, his surgeon. Buchanan made scientific records of the specimens which were drawn by Indian artists. According to the accounts, 500 rupees were reserved for the upkeep of the birds and animals, 300 rupees for collecting them, 100 rupees for the artists and 60 rupees for paints, paper and brushes. Unfortunately, after Wellesley's recall in 1805, this scholarly work was allowed to lapse.
For further watercolours of fish fromt the Collection of Wellesley see exhibition catalogue, Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, Indian Painting for British Patrons 1770-1860, 27 February - 28 March 1991, nos. 7a and 7b, illustrated.