(b. 1733, Frankfurt, d. 1810, Strand-on-the-Green)

Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match

Oil on canvas, 104 x 150 cm
Tate Gallery, London

Zoffany painted this picture for Warren Hastings, the British Governor General of Bengal from 1772 to 1785, under whose rule genuine co-operation flourished between the British and the Indians. His lively picture, executed in the notably relaxed court of the Nawab of Oudh, of a cock match between the Nawab's bird and that of the Englishman Colonel Mordaunt had no pictorial precedent, and revels instead in intimate detail, narrative and vivid colour. The British and Indians, while carefully differentiated, appear as equals in the contest and Mordaunt's pointed Indian slippers show him adopting the local fashions. If some of the British officers seem somewhat stiff, and the Indian servants excitable, the difference is as much of class or caste as of race, and it must be remembered that, as a German, Zoffany could observe each dispassionately. He has placed himself at the right of the scene, pencil in hand, looking on with sardonic amusement.