Indian and Himalayan Art
The Fruit and Leaf of a Fig TreeMade in Calcutta (present-day Kolkata), West Bengal, India, Asia
Artist/maker unknown, India
Opaque watercolor on European paper
Currently not on view
2006-53-131Bequest of Dean Walker, 2006
LabelToward the end of the eighteenth century, before the advent of photography, British patrons in India commissioned Indian painters to make images of local flora and fauna. Following the precedents of British wildlife and botanical illustration, these images document species with scientific precision. Usually the subject floats on a plain paper background and often, as here, shows several stages or aspects in the same illustration. Written in English on the reverse of this unfinished painting is "Ficus Macrophylla, from Napaul." Common in central and western Nepal as well as other parts of Asia, Ficus macrophylla bears fruit in clusters on spurs that protrude from the trunk and larger branches. While it is most often used as fodder, its fruit is edible and its large leaves have a variety of medicinal applications and serve as lovely dishes for festivals.