British Empire
The rise of the British empire - India
British Empire logo
Wall painting from the head offices of the British East India Company, 1778
(The British Library: Foster 245, Roma Spiridione, 'The East offering its riches to Britannia')
  • This image was painted on the ceiling of the headquarters of the British East India Company in London in 1778.
  • It uses a range of figures to illustrate different aspects of the work of the East India Company.
  • Britannia is sitting on a rock to show how well established the empire was and is guarded by a lion to show its power.
  • The children behind Britannia and under her protection represent the British East India Company.
  • The stream of water at the bottom of the painting is the Indian river Ganges. Calcutta (the main settlement of the Company in Bengal) presents a basket with pearls and other jewels.
  • China is represented by jars of porcelain and a box of tea, and Bengal by an elephant and a camel. In the background a ship is taking the treasures of the east back to Britain.
Top of page | Close