This print is taken from a copy of Tom Raw, The Griffin, a burlesque poem in 12 cantos by Sir Charles D'Oyly, published by Ackerman in 1828. A Griffin was a young cadet, new to the service of The East India Company and the poem follows Tom's hapless adventures in India.
This print is of course of interest to us as it shows Tom 'Upon the ground, then stretched out both his legs, Making his elbows on the table'. The table is a folding X Frame and he has his heads in his hands bemoaning his situation. Tom had married the Colonel's daughter but the hope of new found wealth has not materialized. His father in law has withheld the coin and so his young family have to accompany him as his carries out his duties as a treasure escort. His wife is upset, the urchins are screaming and they have been caught in the rains as the Sepoys struggle to erect the tent. To top it all off, Tom is starving and the children have taken the lion's share of the food.
Sir Charles D'Oyly was born in Calcutta in 1781 and after an English education returned to India in the employ of HEIC. Not only was he a good artist but he was well aware of the life in India and the amusing problems that could face a young office green to a country that was different to home. Circa 1828.
Sir Charles D'Oyly was born in Calcutta, Bengal in 1781. After his education in England, he returned to India to follow his father in the service of the Honourable East India Company. He rose through the ranks of the HEIC Civil Service starting as an assistant registrar at Calcutta's Court of Appeal and ending up senior member of the board of customs, salt and opium.
He studied art under the celebrated George Chinnery and went onto be considered the finest Gentleman, or amateur, artist in India during the first half of the 19th Century. He was a good observer of Indian life from his surrounding to the people and customs of the country. He also had a sense of humour as his book Tom Raw, The Griffin, a burlesque poem in 12 cantos, published by Ackerman in 1828, testifies.
In 1828 D'Oyly established one of India's first lithographic presses, with equipment imported from England. He encouraged his friends to use the Behar Amateur Lithographic Press and was a great influence on Indian artists. D'Oyly was a very convivial man who inspired and encouraged those around him with an interest in art. Besides the Behar Press he also founded The United Patna and Gaya Society of artists.
His work came to prominence whilst in Patna between 1821 and 1833, which coincided with his most productive period. He was much admired by the British community for both his artistic skill and his hospitality. He still recognized as an important artist from the first half of the 19th Century in India.