George Chinnery (1774-1852)
George Chinnery (1774-1852)

Portrait of Shearman Bird, Judge of the City Court of Dacca, seated by a table, holding a hookah, with his Indian secretary reading a petition by his side

Details
George Chinnery (1774-1852)
Portrait of Shearman Bird, Judge of the City Court of Dacca, seated by a table, holding a hookah, with his Indian secretary reading a petition by his side
oil on canvas
30 x 25 in. (77 x 64.5 cm.)

Lot Essay

Shearman Bird was Judge and Magistrate of Purnea from December 1815 to August 1818, when he moved to Dacca and became Judge of the City Court.
George Chinnery was born in London in 1774. In 1802 he sailed to India where he spent 22 years painting portraits, miniatures and landscapes, mainly based in Calcutta. In July 1808 he moved to Dacca (modern Dhaka, in Bangladesh), 180 miles from Calcutta to work with his friend, the amateur artist Charles D'Oyly (1781-1845), who in February 1808 had been appointed Collector of the city. Dacca offered a great wealth of architectural subjects. The climate was also regarded as one of the mildest in India. The European population was small and there can be little doubt that Chinnery would have known Shearman Bird at this time. Three years later Chinnery returned to Calcutta where he established himself as the city's most fashionable portrait painter. His portraits have a special interest in the way they record the society at the time and the peculiar circumstances and attitudes which prevailed in British India. The author, Mildred Archer, claimed that 'he stands out as one of the finest portrait painters who worked in India'. In 1825 Chinnery moved to the China Coast where he painted industriously until his death in 1852.
For a drawing of the same sitter see following lot.
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