• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 5428

    Travel, Science & Natural History

    23 April 2008, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 470

    Company School, early 19th Century

    A Hindu Suttee; and Preparation of a Funeral Pyre

    Price Realised  

    Company School, early 19th Century
    A Hindu Suttee; and Preparation of a Funeral Pyre
    gouache on paper
    S. 10½ x 16in. (26.6 x 40.6cm.) (2)


    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    The Hindu custom of suttee, the widow sacrificing herself by climbing onto the funeral pyre of her deceased husband, fascinated the British in India, causing both revulsion and horror but also a certain romantic admiration for this supreme act of fidelity. From the 13th century onwards travellers have written accounts that describe the Hindu wife dressed in her finest garments and bedecked with jewels, led by friends and relatives to the pyre.

    This practice was one of the most controversial and emotional issues of the early-19th century in India and Hindu society was split over the matter. In 1832 Lord Bentinck succeeded in having a bill passed that outlawed suttee.

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.