The Tiger of Mysore

Beatson, Alexander. [Original watercolour painting of Tipu Sultan, mounted in:] A View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun.

London, W. Bulmer and Co., 1800.

Oval watercolour on paper, 103 x 88 mm, on inscribed mount, 197 x 178 mm, glued onto the pastedown of the book.

4to. XXIII, (1), 265, (1), CLXXII pp. With mezzotint frontispiece and 7 folding plates, one a hand-coloured map. 19th century or later half calf and marbled boards.


An original watercolour of Tipu Sultan, the last great Indian ruler to stand against the East India Trading Company, painted by the governess of Lady Henrietta Clive, resident of Mysore and wife of the Governor of Madras. The watercolour is found here inscribed to "Mrs. Gent" and pasted into the first edition copy of Lt.-Colonel Beatson's memoirs of the Siege of Seringapatam and the death of Tipu Sultan, published less than a year after Tipu Sultan's death and with the ownership inscription of William Gent, Major General in the Service of the United East India Company.

The provenance of this painting among the powerful military families of the East India Company gives some idea of Tipu Sultan's incredible fame even (or perhaps especially) among his enemies. Tipu's reputation as a warlord and arch-nemesis of the East India Company was so great that upon his death in battle in 1799, Britain declared a national holiday. Among his own people he was known not only for his prowess in war - several times he defeated the otherwise apparently unstoppable East India Company, and he also fought Maratha and Malabar - but also for his economic innovations. He particularly promoted the industry of Mysore silk, and was innovative in his use of Mysorean rockets in warfare.

The volume in which the watercolour is pasted has a mezzotint frontispiece portrait of Tipu Sultan, captioned "Tipoo Sultaun. From an original Drawing in the Possession of the Marquis Wellesley." However, a contemporary hand has crossed out Wellesley's name - Wellesley being one of the commanders in the battle in which Tipu fell - and has replaced it with "Of Major General Gent." Likely this was Gent's own personal addition, as his ownership inscription appears on the front free endpaper, and in the Appendix he adds a handwritten note to say that he also has the late Tipu's pocketbook in his possession. Plates include "Plan of the Attack upon the Northwest Angle of Seringapatam" and "Map of the Dominions of the late Tippoo Sultan".


1. The household of Lady Henrietta Clive, Mysore. 2. Mrs. and William Gent, Major General in the Service of the United East India Company.


Watercolour in excellent condition, with light soiling to mount. Text and plates with some foxing and browning throughout. In good condition.

Stock Code: BN#63736 Tags: , , ,