Colonel Antoine-Louis Henri de Polier
Col. Polier's Nautch (Lucknow, c.1780), painted by Mihr Chand
|Died||7 February 1795|
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.
Antoine-Louis was born in Lausanne 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 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.
In India, he had two Indian wives, Jugnu and Zinat, 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. 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.
His collection of miniatures are in Berlin.
- Maya Jasanoff, 'Edge of Empire: Conquest and Collecting on the Eastern Frontiers of the British Empire, 1750-1850' Fourth Estate
- Colonel Mordaunt's Cock Match circa 1784-6, Terry Riggs, October 1997, Tate.org.uk, accessed April 2010
- A Man of the Enlightenment in 18th Century India: The Letters of Claude Martin, 1766-1800. Retrieved 2007-05-17.
- William Dalrymple 'Antoines Junior Bibi' Sept 27 2002 Timesonline accessed July 2007
- 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
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