Sita Ram was topographical painter to Lady Hastings, wife of Lord Hastings, Governor-General of Bengal from 1813-1823. He accompanied the Hastings on their tour of Bengal and the north-west provinces from 1814 to 1815 and executed a great many watercolours of the landscape and architecture he discovered.
Sita Ram was the first artist to fully appreciate the techniques of artists such as Hodges and the Daniells and adopt the palette and style of the English painter of the picturesque. '...for the first time an Indian artist can be seen to have the technical equipment and the artistic vision to respond fully to the landscape and topography of his own country.', see J.P. Losty, 'The Place of Company Painting in Indian Art' in J.K. Bautze, Indian and Western painting 1780-1910, Virginia, 1998, p. 24).
As Losty points out however, the watercolours are often not accurate renditions of the landscape and there is still an idealised vision evident that he likens to Poussin and Claude. Some watercolours also contain multiple perspectives.
Little was known about Sita Ram until the discovery in 1970 of an album of fruits and plants and four years later another album of views from 'Secundra to Agra' and from 'Moorsheedabad to Patna' (Sotheby's London, 15 July 1970 lot 132 and 9 July 1974 lots 263-4). Sita Ram is now considered to be the 'the most brilliant and versatile Indian artist of his time' (Losty, op. cit., p. 309). For similar watercolours of shipping along the Bhagirathi and Ganges see S. Carey Welsh, Room for Wonder, New York, 1978, p. 35.