Write a short essay (250-300 words) on the following:
What do visual representations tell us about the revolt of 1857? How do historians analyse these representations?
(i) Pictorial images were produced by both British and Indians paintings, pencil drawings, posters, etc. They form an important record of the mutiny. British pictures in particular presented a variety of images that have provoked a range of different kinds of emotions and reactions.
(ii) Some of the British pictorial images commemorate the British heroes who served the English. They repressed the rebels hence represented as heroes for example, ‘Relief of Lucknow’ painted by Thomas Jones Barker, depicts the efforts of James Outrom, Henry Havelock and Colin Campbell in rescuing the besieged British garrison in Lucknow. This image was sketched in 1859.
(iii) Newspapers reported incidents of violence against women and children such kinds of news when broke out, they led to demands for revenge and retribution. The British government were asked to protect the women and children. Artists have tried to express these feelings through their visual representations of trauma and suffering.
(iv) Memories “In memoriam” painted by Joseph Noel Paton portrays helpless English women and children huddled in circle awaiting their fate at the hands of the rebels. Through it he ties to represent the rebels as violent.
(v) Portrait of heroes of rebellion the dead and injured potrait in the picture indicate the sufferings which occurred during the siege. While the triumphant figures of heroes in the middle ground emphasised the fact that British rule had been reestablished. The rebellion has been surprised.
(vi) Invincibility of British threatened by the rebellion, the British felt the need to demonstrate their invincibility. They frid to represent it through pictorial images for example, in one such image a female figure of justice with a sword in one hand a shield in the other is shown. Her posture is aggressive, her facial expression express her anger and a desire for revenge she is presented in a heroic image.
(vii) In certain sketches and paintings women are depicted as heroic. They are represented as defending themselves against the rebels. Women’s struggle to save her honour and life is shown to have a deeper religious connotation. It is a battle to save the honour of Christianity and a book lying on the floor is said to symbolize the Bible.
(viii) Source of deals with the report of a British officer from Oudh. The reports of the uprising of the people.