Sea holly

Description
Sea holly (Acanthus ilicifolius) is currently being investigated as a treatment for liver and other cancers. In Ayurvedic medicine the plant is known as a ‘Sahachara’ - a group of similar plants that are used for rheumatic complaints. It has been used for dyspepsia, paralysis, asthma, headache, rheumatism, and skin diseases. The leaves can be chewed or brewed into a tea.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.

Company School style paintings became popular with wealthy Europeans. It was not uncommon for East India Company officials (who were not employed as medics or botanists) to build their own personal collections of paintings depicting Indian flora and fauna. We cannot be sure how local amateur botanist Richard Cresswell came by this collection of 86 Company School works. It is possible Henry Creighton commissioned them during his time as a judge in Calcutta and that on his death the works came back to the UK with his daughter Frances who later married Richard Cresswell.

Some drawings in this collection, including this one are signed on the reverse. The artist’s name, Bhawani Das, is written in English and Bengali. He is known to have worked for Lady Mary Impey, wife of Sir Elijah Impey the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Calcutta. It is probable that Creighton and Impey knew each other.
Accession Loan No.
19/1927/2/60
Simple Name
drawing
Full Name
Acanthus Illicifolius Linn
Medium
watercolour on paper
Common Name
sea holly
Production Person Surname
Bhawani Das
Production Country
India
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)
Collection Class
Drawings
Production Town
Calcutta
Production County
Bengal
Production Area Region
South Asia
Production Continent
Asia
Production Year Low
1780
Production Year High
1810
Inscription / Transcription
HERB. MUS. EXON CRESSWELL COLLECTION 19/1927; Acanthus Illicifolius Linn; No 60
Family Group

Dimensions
total sheet H 555 mm; total sheet length 390 mm
Created At
2016-10-13 16:49:57
Updated At
2020-01-28 11:43:38

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