Antoine Polier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Colonel Antoine-Louis Henri de Polier
Colpolier.jpg
Col. Polier's Nautch (Lucknow, c.1780), painted by Mihr Chand
Born 1741
Lausanne
Died 7 February 1795
France
Occupation Engineer
Spouse(s) three
Children three

Colonel Antoine-Louis Henri de Polier (1741–1795) was a Swiss adventurer, art collector, military engineer and soldier who made his fortune in India in the eighteenth century.

Early life[edit]

Claude Martin Antoine-Louis Polier Johann Zoffany
Antoine Polier, General Claude Martin, John Wombwell, assay master, and Johann Zoffany, the painter, surrounded by servants and Polier's art collection.

Antoine-Louis was born in Lausanne[1] from a French Huguenot family who emigrated to Switzerland in the mid 16th century to escape the wars of religion. He was the youngest son of Jacques-Henri de Polier and his wife Jeanne-Françoise Moreau. He later learned Hindi and Persian.

Antoine Polier - Orientalist Hassan Resa Khan background Nawab Salar Jung Claude Martin - Soldier and polymath Nawab Wazir of Oudh Colonel John Mordaunt Col. Mordaunt's cockfighter Ozias Humphrey - Painter Cockfighting John Wombwell - East India Co. accountant Mr Orr Mr. Robert Gregory Lieutenant Golding - East India Co. Engineer Seated figure Unknown Zoffany - the artist Cockfighter Mr Gregory's cockfighter Use a cursor to explore or click for larger image
Colonel Mordaunt's cockfight by Johann Zoffany - Some can be identified by hovering the mouse pointer over different individuals in the painting.[2]

Antoine Polier was an engineer from Lausanne who supported the military adventures of Robert Clive and later became a rich trader and loyal supporter of the British Raj administration in Calcutta. He devoted his free moments to collecting rare manuscripts in Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic. Many were sent back to France to augment the growing collection in the Royal Library. France was now the center for the study of ancient Indian languages and its 'orientalism' spread to Germany in the early 1800s as Europe began to show a keen interest in early Indian-Persian-Zoroastrian origins.[1]

In India, he had two Indian wives, Jugnu and Zinat,[3] one senior and one junior and three (or possibly, four) children who were all baptized in Calcutta. He acquired a large art collection and became rich working for the Indian royalty. In 1788 he left his Indian wives with his loyal companion and fellow enlightened adventurer,Claude Martin.[3] and settled in France with an unfortunate timing as he arrived in time for the French revolution. Having purchased a chateau and taking a French wife and two children, Charles de Polier and Adolphe de Polier. He was assassinated in Avignon on February 9, 1795 in the terror that followed the French revolution.[4]

Legacy[edit]

His collection of miniatures are in Berlin.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Maya Jasanoff, 'Edge of Empire: Conquest and Collecting on the Eastern Frontiers of the British Empire, 1750-1850' Fourth Estate
  2. ^ Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match  circa 1784-6, Terry Riggs, October 1997, Tate.org.uk, accessed April 2010
  3. ^ a b A Man of the Enlightenment in 18th Century India: The Letters of Claude Martin, 1766-1800. Retrieved 2007-05-17. 
  4. ^ William Dalrymple 'Antoines Junior Bibi' Sept 27 2002 Timesonline accessed July 2007

Further reading[edit]

  • A European Experience of the Mughal Orient: The I’jaz-i Arsalani (Persian Letters, 1773–1779) of Antoine-Louis-Henri Polier - Translated with an introduction by Muzaffar Alam and Seema Alavi. Pub.Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-564980-X

Jean-Marie Lafont, Indika. Essays in Indo-French Relations 1630-1976. New Delhi 2000. [An extremely useful book outlining French activities in India during Polier's time] ISBN 81-7304 278 0