Miniatures between East and West: The Art(s) of Diplomacy in Thomas Roe’s Embassy
Peu après son arrivée à la cour de l’empereur Jahângîr, Thomas Roe, premier ambassadeur anglais dûment accrédité auprès du Moghol, offrit à sa majesté une miniature réalisée par Isaac Oliver, un cadeau que le vizir Asaf Khan estimait digne de l’occasion. En relatant cet épisode, Roe explique qu’il avait avec lui « le portrait d’un ami que j’estimais beaucoup, une oeuvre d’une curiosité rare et que j’envisageais d’offrir à sa majesté, voyant à quel point il affectionnait cette forme artistique ». En découvrant le travail d’Oliver et en écoutant l’éloge public du talent de l’artiste par Roe, le « maître miniaturiste » de la cour du Moghol fait le pari de rivaliser avec l’Anglais. Quelques jours après, la qualités des copies portées à Roe est effectivement telle qu’on propose à l’ambassadeur de Jacques Ier de « choisir n’importe laquelle de ces copies pour montrer en Angleterre que nous ne sommes pas aussi inaptes que vous le croyez ».
Cette leçon d’ethnocentrisme a souvent été discutée et commentée par les historiens, mais une question demeure encore partiellement sans réponse : pourquoi l’ambassadeur a-t-il choisi la miniature, plutôt que tout autre format, pour se (re)présenter et (re)présenter son pays ? Prenant appui sur ce moment particulièrement significatif en matière de mise en scène politique et de négociation dans L’Ambassade de Thomas Roe, je souhaite interroger les dimensions techniques aussi bien que symboliques de l’art de la miniature enluminée afin d’essayer de comprendre pourquoi les miniatures occupent pareille place à la fois dans les curiosités et dans les négociations politiques entre l’Orient et l’Occident.
Keywords :Thomas Roe, Jahangir, Isaac Oliver, miniature, curiosity, diplomacy, limning, ethnocentrism
- 1 All subsequent references are to Sir William Foster C. I. E. (ed.), The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe t (...)
- 2 Richmond Barbour, Before Orientalism: London’s Theatre of the East, 1576-1626, Cambridge, Cambridge (...)
1The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe, a collection of journal entries, notes and letters from 1615-1619,1 offers an insight into both the royal embassy to the Great Mogul and Roe’s ‘rhetorical space to collect himself and exercise the dignity and influence denied him elsewhere.’2 These documents show that following many rebukes and failed attempts at finding the right presents to convince the Emperor of granting the English trading privileges, Thomas Roe resorted to providing the Emperor with a miniature by Isaac Oliver from his personal collection.
- 3 Ibid., p. 172.
Paintings and painters alike were very often to be found at the centre of early modern diplomatic negotiations. For instance, Jahangir had sent one of his court painters, Bishan Das, along with his ambassador to Persia, thus making it clear that ‘as royal emissaries, the painter and the ambassador travel in equal dignity.’3
- 4 I am here borrowing from and referring to Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton’s Global Interests. Renais (...)
2Although Roe’s idea of using pictures as diplomatic currency comes as no surprise, one question remains unanswered: why would the ambassador choose a miniature, of all formats, to (re)present himself and his country? Starting from this highly revealing and much discussed moment of political performance and negotiation in The Embassy, one may try and understand why miniatures would feature both among curiosities and political negotiations ‘between East and West’ in Roe’s journal.4
- 5 Court Minutes of the East India Company, quoted by Ram Chandra Prasad in Early English Travellers i (...)
3Thomas Roe was appointed as the first duly accredited English ambassador to India after several failed attempts by previous expeditions to secure trading privileges in the area, namely William Hawkins and Henry Middleton’s ventures. In September 1612, Thomas Best had managed to obtain an agreement with local officials, one article of which stipulated that an English representative should be allowed to reside at the Mughal court. After he returned to England in 1614 and acquainted the East India Company with the news, the Company’s Committees appointed Sir Thomas Roe as their official ambassador. Roe had been knighted in 1604 and was deemed by the directors of the company ‘a gentleman well knowne unto them all to bee of pregnant understandinge, well spoken, learned, industrious and of a comely personage, and one of whom there are great hopes that hee may worke much good for the company.’5 As James I granted Roe the needed accreditation, his mission was then defined in the following terms (this I quote from the Company’s Agreement of 16 November 1614):
- 6 George Birdwood and William Foster, The First Letter Book of the East India Company, London, Quarit (...)
The Governor and Company have nominated the foresaid Thomas Roe and procured his Majesty to employ him as his embassador to the Grand Magore for the better establishing and settling an absolute trade in any partes with the Dominions of the greate Magore aforesaid.6
- 7 See Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrims Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages a (...)
4Throughout the three years and a half that Roe spent in India trying to deal and negotiate with Jahangir, the ambassador wrote a rather detailed journal of his stay. Only the first two years can be consulted in the British Library manuscript, which was published at full length for the first time by the Hakluyt Society in London in 1899. As to the third year, the journal records being incomplete, the reader has to rely on the embassy extracts given in Samuel Purchas’s Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas his Pilgrim,7 while details from the fourth year boil down to particulars gleaned from correspondence.
- 8 Edward Terry, A Voyage to East-India, London, J. Wilkie, 1777 (reprinted from the 1655 edition).
- 9 Corinne Lefèvre, ‘Entre despotisme et vertu : les représentations de l’Inde dans A Voyage to East-I (...)
- 10 Ram Chandra Prasad, op. cit.
5Some of the episodes mentioned in the present article feature in both Roe’s Embassy and the relation of the voyage left by Edward Terry, Roe’s own chaplain. That relation, entitled A Voyage to East-India, was first published in 1655.8 The two texts are chronologically arranged, though Terry’s account is divided into chapters recording some events or considerations without systematic dating. Roe’s journal, on the contrary, reads as a series of carefully dated entries, recording his every move and attempt. The two accounts may be considered limited in scope: Corinne Lefèvre has convincingly argued in an article on Terry’s Voyage to East-India that the chaplain’s own relations with the East India Company, the Reformed Church and the English crown somehow filter Terry’s narrative, in spite of his efforts in documenting objectively his Indian experience.9 The space and time limitations of his stay may also account for the relatively restrictive view he offered. As to Roe’s own journal, commentators such as Ram Chandra Prasad have noted that it was also limited in scope, focusing on the royal palace and activities, on political conditions rather than on a social picture of the customs of the inhabitants.10 Curiosity does not therefore appear as the main motivation behind the writings of the two men. Yet curiosity and curiosities played a great part in Roe’s long and seemingly never-ending negotiations with Jahangir.
- 11 Ibid., p. 132.
- 12 The early modern culture of diplomacy (and diplomacy of culture) has attracted renewed attention fr (...)
6Upon arrival, after close to a year of travelling, Roe learned that the Portuguese were ‘pressing a treaty with the Mughal Emperor which would result in the absolute exclusion of the English from all ports of his empire.’11 Roe had thus landed in the midst of a raging commercial competition in which he would have to work hard in order to further English interests. Gift-giving was one – if not the first – way of engaging in negotiations aimed at obtaining the Emperor’s favours and trading privileges.12 The value – whether symbolic or economic – of the English ambassador’s gifts to the Emperor is indeed truly an obsessive motif in Roe’s journal, and a true measuring stick of the ambassador’s chances of success. Roe writes for example:
- 13 T. Roe, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 97.
[T]he Presentes you haue this yeare sent are extreamly despised by those who haue seene them; the lyning of the Coach and Couer of the Virginalls scorned, beeing veluett of these parts and faded to a base Tawny; the Kniues little and meane, soe that I am enforced to new furnish the Case of my own store; […] the burning glasses and prospectiues (i.e. telescopes) such as no man hath face to offer to giue, much less to sell, such as I can buy for sixe peence a peice; your Pictures not all woorth one Penny, and finally such error in the chooyce of all things, as I thincke no man euer heard of the Place that was of Councell. Here are nothing esteemed but of the best sorts: good Cloth and fine, and rich Pictures, they comming out of Italy ouerland and from Ormus; soe that they laugh at vs for such as wee bring. And doubtlesse they vnderstand them as well as wee; and what they want in knowledge they are enformed by the Jesuites and others, that in Emulation of vs prouide them of the best at any rates.13
7In a slightly later letter sent to the East India Company on January, 25, 1616, Roe writes again:
- 14 Ibid., p. 119.
[The Emperor] accepted your presents well; but after the English were come away he asked the Iesuiyte whether the King of England were a great Kyng that sent presents of so small valewe, and that he looked for some Iewells. To this purpose was I often felt by some, before I sawe him, whither I had brought Iewells or no. But raretyes please as well […].14
8In this passage Roe makes it clear that precious items such as jewels would be better suited to his aim. Yet he also notes that ‘raretyes’ would also please. The opposition between the two sentences marks a clear distinction in the estimation process: although value comes first, ‘rare’ objects, regardless of their market value, have to be considered equally. Although not strictly prized the way jewels are, ‘raretye’ also augments the market value of the gifts brought, as is exemplified by the following description of a curiously manufactured object which apparently fully pleased the Emperor:
- 15 Ibid., p. 144.
[A] little box of Cristall, made by arte like a rubie, and cutt into the stone in Curious workes, which was all inameld and inlayd with fine gould. Soe rare a peece was neuer seene in India, as can witness all your seruantes resident at Adsmere. I can sett noe price, because it was geuen me; but I could haue sould it for a thousand Rupees, and was enformed that had it been knowne how highlye the King esteemed it, I mought have had 5,000 Rupees. The King the same night sent for all the Christians, and others his owne subjectes, articificers in gould and stone, to demand if euer they sawe such woorke or howe it could be wrought; who Generallie Confessed they neuer sawe such arte nor could tell how to goe about it, wherat the King sent me woord he esteemed it aboue a diamond geuen him that day at 6,000 li. Price.15
9This is a rather explicit instance of the first meaning assigned to the word ‘curious’ in Roe’s account. Curiosity here refers to the delicate manufacturing, the precise and minute carving of a small object. It also points to the rarity of the piece, its unique quality and the unmatched skill of the artificer. As a result, rarity is turned into profit, as the estimated price for the box is said to vary according to the Emperor’s appreciation of it. The curiosity presented to the Emperor thus fulfils at least three aims: a political aim – Roe’s ability to come up with something better than his rivals on such a competitive market, an economic one – that of raising the value of the box – and, finally, a diplomatic one, closely linked to the second, which can be summarised as follows: the more prestigious and expensive the present, the greater the chances of obtaining the Emperor’s preference over other gift-givers.
- 16 Ibid., p. 171.
- 17 Ibid., p. 210.
- 18 Ibid., p. 146.
10The smallness of the box, and therefore, the dainty work it required, was an important feature. Upon the occasion of a visit to Asaph Chan, Roe writes that the latter commented that the English ‘brought not so curious toyes for the King as did the Portugall’,16 which partially accounted for Jahangir’s refusal to sign a definitive agreement. As recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary, the word toy, in early modern English, meant ‘a small article of little intrinsic value, but prized as an ornament or curiosity’ or ‘a petty commodity’. Aware of such reproaches, Roe later addressed the Emperor using the same word again, arguing that ‘for curious and rare toyes, we haue better meanes to furnish your highnes then any other, our kingdom abounding with all arts and our shipping trading into all the world, wherby there is nothing vnder the sunne which wee are not able to bring, if we knew your highnes pleasure, what you did most affect.’17 Curious and rare toys, or small objects, such as the little box, were accordingly endowed with renewed value. Roe seems to have fully grasped the opportunity he had just created for himself, the Company and the Crown, as he visited the Emperor the day after he gave him the box to try and ‘establish a fayre and secure trade and residence for my countrymen.’18
- 19 Ibid., p. 146-147.
He Asked me what presents wee would bring him. I answered the league was yet new and very weake: that many Curiosityes were to be found in our Country of rare price and estimation, which the king would send and the Merchants seeke out in all parts of the world, if they were once made secure of a quiett trade and protection on honorable Conditions, having beene heeretofore many wayes wronged. He asked what kind of Curiosityes those were I mentioned, whether I ment Iewells and rich stones. I answered no: that we did not thinck them fitt presents to send back, which were brought first from these parts, wherof hee was Cheefe lord: that wee esteemed them Common here and of much more price with vs: but that we sought to fynd such things for his Maiestie as rare here and vnseene, as excellent artifices in Paynting, caruing, Cutting, enamelling, figures in brasse, copper, or stone, rich embroderyes, stuffs of gould and siluer.19
- 20 Ibid., p. 97.
- 21 Ibid., p. 119.
- 22 Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumous or Purchas his Pilgrimes, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 516.
11Things rare, unseen and excellent then became Roe’s favoured diplomatic asset in the race to secure trade agreements. The first example he gives it that of excellent paintings. As far as pictures were concerned, Roe complained to the company that the Emperor was being sent better pictures than the ones he had brought, ‘rich Pictures […] comming out of Italy ouerland and from Ormus; soe that they laugh at vs for such as wee bring.’20 Pictures thus figure prominently in the competition for trade privileges. On January 25, 1616, Roe even gives a precise description of the type of pictures that may qualify as ‘rare’ and unusual: ‘pictures, lardge, on cloth […]; but they must be good, and for varyetye some story, with many faces, for single to the life hath been more vsuall.’21 The year before, in 1615, John Saris, coming back to London from Japan, was also quite specific on matters relating to pictures to be taken to the Japanese, suggesting they should also be ‘large’, as is attested by his observations to the East India Company, specifying that paintings should be: “the bigger, the better, worth one, two to three hundred.’22
12Yet surprisingly enough, one of Roe’s later choice of pictures comes to contradict, at least partially, these observations. In July 1616, six months after he gave the description of pictures fit for negotiating, he decided to show the emperor a picture by Isaac Oliver that was the exact opposite of the kind of paintings he had recommended the English should provide, since it was small, showed just one face and had been painted to the life:
- 23 Ibid., p. 213.
I had a Pickture of a frend of myne that I esteemed very much, and was for Curiositye rare, which I would giue his Maiestie as a present, seeing hee so much affected that art; assuring myselfe he neuer saw any equall to it, neyther was any thing more esteemed of mee. Asaph Chan asked mee for my little picture and presented it to the King. He took extreame content, showeing it to euerie man neare him, at last sent for his Cheefe Paynter, demanding his opinion. The fool answered he could make as good. Wherat the king turned to mee saying: my man sayth he can do the like and as well as this, what say yow? I replyed: I knew the Contrarie. But if hee doe, said he, what will you say? I answered: I would giue 10,000 rupies for such a Coppy of his hand, for I knowe none in Europe but the same master can performe it.23
13Why did Roe esteem Oliver’s little picture to be ‘for curiositye rare’? First of all, the smallness and jewel-like quality of miniatures may be the reason why they were then often considered precious rarities. Like the crystal box, the portrait miniature would have required the minute and precise skill of a careful artist:
- 24 Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, London, Thames and Hudson, 1983, p. 8.
[Miniature painters in England] were often incidentally miniaturists. What we are in fact dealing with is a sequence of artists who worked in England within the tradition of the late medieval and Renaissance workshop. They were artist-craftsmen who could paint panel portraits, design and often make jewels and plate, execute designs for tapestries and stained glass, supervise the décor and costumes for court festivals, provide drawing for engravers or illuminate official documents. […] Specialization set in only after about 1620.24
14Some early portrait miniatures, enclosed in golden lockets, would be worn as jewels. They testified to the talent of the artist as both a limner and a goldsmith. As such, miniatures, like the crystal box, may have been viewed as curious. However, the esteemed price of the miniature presented to Jahangir does not seem to stem from any sort of ornamental or added value, in the shape of a golden locket or other precious gilded or stone additions, as was the case in Elizabethan miniatures. Roe insists on the value of the miniature being potentially subjective (‘that I esteemed very much’, my emphasis) rather than outwardly evident. In his own account, Roe’s Chaplain also testifies to the neatness of the picture:
- 25 E. Terry, op. cit., p. 129.
[I]t happened that my Lord Ambassadour, visiting the Mogol on a time, as he did often, He presented him with a curious neat small oval Picture done to the life in England. The Mogol was much pleased with it, but told the Ambassadour withall, that happily he supposed there was never one in his Countrey that could do so well in that curious Art, and then offered to wager with him a leck of roopies (a sum which amounted to no less than 10,000 l. sterling) that in a few dayes he would have two Coppies made by that presented to him so like that the Ambassadour should not know his own25.
15Interestingly enough, the word ‘curious’ is yet again to be found twice in this description, offering further evidence of the essential link between miniature and curiosity. In fact, this passage adds a new layer to the meaning of ‘curiosity’. Portrait miniatures were then seen as England’s unique contribution to the art of the Renaissance, and the only format in which they could excel and surpass their continental rivals. Portrait miniatures were hailed as embodying the English pictorial genius, making them unique and rare, i.e. curious, and worthy of the Emperor’s attention, in spite of the fierce pictorial competition that was rife at the Mughal court. I will here give just three examples to buttress this point. In his 1580’s translation of Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, John Harington added many notes to the original text. At the end of Canto XXXIII, which praises Italian artists, he added:
- 26 Sir John Harington, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso translated into English Heroical Verse (1591), Robert (...)
And though indeed this Realme hath not bred any Michel Angelos nor men of such rare perfection as may deserve his title: Michel (more than a man) Angell divine. Yet I may say thus much with parciallitie for the honour of my country, as myne authour hath done for the honour of his, that we have with us at this day one that for limning (which I take to be the verie perfection of that art) is comparable with any of any other country. And for the prayse that I told you of Parrhasius for taking the true lynes of the face, I thinke our countryman (I mean M. Hilliard) is inferiour to none that lives at this day […].26
- 27 Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia. Wits Treasury. Being the Second Part of Wits Commonwealth, London, 1 (...)
16Hilliard, the most famous portrait limner of the Elizabethan court, is thus equated with the greatest Italian artists, specialists of greater formats and genre painting. Some years later, in 1598, Frances Meres, in his Palladis Tamia, wrote that ‘as learned and skilfull Greece had these [Parrhasios and Zeuxis] excellently renowned for their limning: so England hath these; Hiliarde, Isaac Oliver and Iohn de Creetes, very famous for their painting.’27 Here again, the excellent renown of limners owes nothing to ‘curiosity’ intended as the delicate craftsmanship of jewels or toys, and miniaturists are compared to the greatest artists.
- 28 Lomazzo, Tracte, Book II, chapt. 1, ‘Of the Virtue and Efficacie of Motion’, trans. Richard Haydock (...)
- 29 R. Strong, op. cit., p. 108.
- 30 Lucy Gent, Picture and Poetry, 1560-1620, Leamington Spa, James Hall Limited, 1981, p. 8. The word (...)
- 31 One may here turn to the use of the word ‘curious’ in Hilliard’s A Treatise Concerning the Arte of (...)
17That same year, Richard Haydocke, translating or rather adapting Giovanni Paolo Lommazo’s Trattato dell’arte de la pittura into English, compared Hilliard to ‘late world wonders’ such as Raphael, explaining how he brought limning to ‘the perfection of painting.’28 ‘Writing at the close of the century in the patriotic afterglow of the Spanish Armada’,29 Haydocke thus acknowledges the status that limners had come to achieve in England’s rewriting and adaptation of the continental history of art. One further relevant reason to mention Haydocke’s text is that the Italian title was translated into English as Tracte Containing the Artes of Curious Paintinge, Caruinge & Buildinge (Oxford, 1598). The word ‘curious’ was then frequently associated with both continental and English painters, which, according to Lucy Gent ‘by no means aided the cause of art-painting in England at a time when curious tended to have pejorative overtones.’30 But though this might be true of greater scale painting, if one turns to some limners’ own texts published in the years when Oliver was alive and limning, one realises that the word ‘curious’ was not meant as a reference to complex and elaborate optical devices such as anamorphosis – which it later came to refer to – but rather as ‘precise’ and ‘true to life’, a sort of perfect perspectiva artificialis, a meaning which I think should be added to the phrase Roe uses: ‘for curyositie rare’.31 Oliver’s miniature was not considered a curious toy but a curious and rare picture as such, as valuable as other larger format European pictures, and perhaps even more so, given the essential Englishness and uniqueness associated to it in the eyes of the court from which the ambassador was coming.
- 32 R. Strong, op. cit., p. 115.
- 33 Paradoxically enough, Hilliard was frequently presented as England’s very own Michaelangelo, while (...)
18For precision’s sake, though I have up to now referred to early modern English limners as a single group, I’d like to insist upon the difference between Elizabethan and Jacobean portrait miniatures, and more particularly between the styles of Hilliard and Oliver. Although Frances Meres puts Hilliard and Oliver on a par, Haydocke’s treatise on ‘curious paintinge’ coincides with Oliver’s return from Italy, after which he progressively did away with the ‘prevailing medieval concept of painting as line and colour’, which still characterized much of Hilliard’s production. Oliver turned instead to the use of ‘shadow and perspective to achieve total optical illusion.’32 His understanding of perspective, much more developed than Hilliard, is most visible in his full-length miniatures. Whereas Hilliard is generally described as the last neo-medievalist painter in England, Oliver’s techniques conversely grant him the status of a fully-fledged Renaissance artist.33 The ‘little painting’ that Roe decided to give as a present to Jahangir was thus supposed to be rare and curious, English in format and Italian in technique.
19Yet although in Roe’s words, none in Europe but Oliver could produce such a work, Jahangir reportedly failed to be much impressed. Few days after they were presented with the miniature, the Emperor and his painters invited Roe to admire the copies they had agreed they would make.
- 34 T. Roe, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 225
At night hee sent for mee, beeing hastie to triumph in his workman, and shewd me 6 Pictures, 5 made by his man, all pasted on one table, so like that I was by candle-light troubled to discerne which was which; I confesse beyond all expectation; yet I shewed myne owne and the differences, which were in arte apparent, not to be judged by a Common eye. But for that at first sight I knew it not, hee was very merry and joyfull […]. I replied I saw his Majestie needed noe Picture from our Country […] wherat the king answered: yow confesse hee is a good workman: send for him home, and showe him such toyes as you haue and lett him choose one; in requital wherof you shall choose any of these Coppies to showe in England wee are not so vnskillfull as you esteeme vs.34
- 35 Ania Loomba, ‘Of Gifts, Ambassadors and Copy-Cats: Diplomacy, Exchange, and Difference in Early Mod (...)
- 36 A. Loomba, op. cit., p. 58.
- 37 Peter Stallybrass mentions Roe’s embassy as further evidence of early modern England’s marginality (...)
- 38 I am here using – and transforming – Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton’s subtitle to Global Interests (...)
20The Mughal emperor meant to demonstrate that they could not only replicate but also improve European artefacts, a way of asserting symbolic victory over his presumptuous guest. The English’s wrong estimation of the Mughal’s alleged reaction backfires in at least two ways. First, Roe does not estimate correctly the value of the ‘curiosity’ he thought he was presenting, miscalculating the price and prestige that could be given to the miniature, and thinking it would work wonders (or curiosities) in the same way the little crystal box had done. Three Jesuit missions with similarly blighted hopes of seduction had already brought European pictures into India. To sum up a point already compellingly made by Ania Loomba, the reception of the pictures in the specific Mughal context demonstrated the Mughal court’s ‘ability to copy closely as well as to infuse the Christian figures with a different spirit to place them in Indian settings.’35 This may be accounted for by the fact that ‘Christian imagery was perhaps less threatening to the Mughals than to the Ottomans, where the contiguity of Imperial territories with the European frontier resulted in a much more reserved attitude towards European imagery, in spite of its availability in much larger quantities than in Mughal India.’36 The failure of the ‘curiosity strategy’ is further confirmed by the fact that though both Terry and Roe speak of the episode as a rather striking moment in their voyage, it is nowhere mentioned in Mughal texts such as the Jahangir Nama, thus testifying to the difficulty for foreign and European ambassadors to evaluate, price and speculate upon the rate of curiosity in a global economy centred in the east.37 The geographical enlargement of artistic horizons that those embassies opened up meant that ambassadors and their retinue were confronted with the relativity of the notion of ‘curious’ in painting. As new cultural maps were unfolding under the world’s eyes, ‘East and West fixed each other with a […] [curious] gaze.’38 As a result, the bathetic story of the miniatures in Roe’s Embassy reveals how much the rate and meaning of early modern ‘curiosity’ needs to be scrutinised with global geographies in mind… and eye.
1 All subsequent references are to Sir William Foster C. I. E. (ed.), The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to India 1615-1619. As Narrated in his Journal and Correspondence, London, the Hakluyt Society, 1899, 2 volumes.
2 Richmond Barbour, Before Orientalism: London’s Theatre of the East, 1576-1626, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 147.
3 Ibid., p. 172.
4 I am here borrowing from and referring to Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton’s Global Interests. Renaissance Art between East and West, London, Reaktion, 2000.
5 Court Minutes of the East India Company, quoted by Ram Chandra Prasad in Early English Travellers in India, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass, 1980, p. 130.
6 George Birdwood and William Foster, The First Letter Book of the East India Company, London, Quaritch, 1893, p. 446.
7 See Hakluytus Posthumus, or Purchas His Pilgrims Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Land Travells by Englishmen and Others, 20 vols (Glasgow, MacLehose, 1905-1907), volume 4.
8 Edward Terry, A Voyage to East-India, London, J. Wilkie, 1777 (reprinted from the 1655 edition).
9 Corinne Lefèvre, ‘Entre despotisme et vertu : les représentations de l’Inde dans A Voyage to East-India d’Edward Terry (1655)’, in Rêver d’Orient, connaître l’Orient. Visions de l’Orient dans l’art et la littérature britanniques, M.-E. Palmier-Chatelain and I. Gadoin (eds.), Lyon, ENS Éditions, 2008, p. 99-112.
10 Ram Chandra Prasad, op. cit.
11 Ibid., p. 132.
12 The early modern culture of diplomacy (and diplomacy of culture) has attracted renewed attention from cultural historians and literature specialists over the past decade. To name just three recent studies, see Timothy Hampton, Fictions of Embassy, Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press, 2009; Robyn Adams and Rosana Cox (eds.), Diplomacy and Early Modern Culture, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010; Marika Keblusek and Badeloch Vera Noldus (eds.), Double Agents. Cultural and Political Brokerage in Early Modern Europe, Leiden, Brill, 2011. The cultural forms of diplomacy in the Renaissance have also been central to a 2012 international conference held at the University of Toulouse 2. In most recent studies concerned with such field, pictures and gift-giving practices appear as crucial elements in ambassadorial contexts. About Jahangir’s gifts (whether received by or sent by him) as part of a process of diplomatic exchange, see the richly illustrated catalogue for the exhibition Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts which was held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (5 June - 5 September 2001) and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (23 October 2011 - 15 January 2012). See Linda Komaroff (ed.), Gifts of the Sultan. The Arts of Giving at the Islamic Courts, New Haven and London,Yale University Press, 2011.
13 T. Roe, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 97.
14 Ibid., p. 119.
15 Ibid., p. 144.
16 Ibid., p. 171.
17 Ibid., p. 210.
18 Ibid., p. 146.
19 Ibid., p. 146-147.
20 Ibid., p. 97.
21 Ibid., p. 119.
22 Samuel Purchas, Hakluytus Posthumous or Purchas his Pilgrimes, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 516.
23 Ibid., p. 213.
24 Roy Strong, The English Renaissance Miniature, London, Thames and Hudson, 1983, p. 8.
25 E. Terry, op. cit., p. 129.
26 Sir John Harington, Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso translated into English Heroical Verse (1591), Robert McNulty (ed.), Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1972, p. 24.
27 Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia. Wits Treasury. Being the Second Part of Wits Commonwealth, London, 1598, p. 287.
28 Lomazzo, Tracte, Book II, chapt. 1, ‘Of the Virtue and Efficacie of Motion’, trans. Richard Haydocke, in Robert Klein and Henri Zerner (eds.), Italian Art, 1500-1600: Sources and Documents, Evanston, Northwestern University Press, 1989, p. 115.
29 R. Strong, op. cit., p. 108.
30 Lucy Gent, Picture and Poetry, 1560-1620, Leamington Spa, James Hall Limited, 1981, p. 8. The word “curious” was indeed sometimes conflated with artificiality and affectation, as in Sir Philip Sidney’s Apology for Poetry, where the poet criticises those ‘more careful to speak curiously than to speak truly’ (An Apology for Poetry or The Defence of Poesy, R. W. Maslen (ed.), Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2002, p. 140).
31 One may here turn to the use of the word ‘curious’ in Hilliard’s A Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning (1598) or in Norgate’s Miniatura or the Art of Limning (written 1627-1628, revised 1648).
32 R. Strong, op. cit., p. 115.
33 Paradoxically enough, Hilliard was frequently presented as England’s very own Michaelangelo, while Oliver, a French-born artist exiled to the English court, was more often than not thought of as a ‘French painter’, somewhat alien to the genealogy of English curious painters.
34 T. Roe, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 225
35 Ania Loomba, ‘Of Gifts, Ambassadors and Copy-Cats: Diplomacy, Exchange, and Difference in Early Modern India’, in Brinda Charry and Gitanjali Shahani (eds.), Emissaries in Early Modern Literature and Culture. Mediation, Transmission, Traffic, 1550-1700, Farnham, Ashgate, 2009, p. 41-77, here p. 57. According to Nandini Das, the ‘copy-cats’ from Jahangir’s court were also part of a wider political strategy: ‘For the emperors Akbar and Jahangir, both knowledgeable connoisseurs of art in their own right, this adoption served a significant ideological purpose by demonstrably advertising the religious tolerance actively practiced by the Mughal regime. At the same time, the defense of religious imagery by the Jesuits, well schooled in such arguments in the wake of the Counter-Reformation and sharing much of the Neoplatonic concepts already familiar within Islamic Sufism, also helped the Mughals to justify their own interest in painting against the iconoclasm of orthodox Islam.’ (Nandini Das, ‘“Apes of Imitation”: Imitation and Identity in Sir Thomas Roe’s Embassy to India’, in Jyotsna G. Singh (ed.), A Companion to the Global Renaissance. English Literature and Culture in the Era of Expansion, Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009, p. 114-129, here p. 123).
36 A. Loomba, op. cit., p. 58.
37 Peter Stallybrass mentions Roe’s embassy as further evidence of early modern England’s marginality in global cultural and economic networks. See his ‘Marginal England: The View from Aleppo’, in Lena Cowen Orlin (ed.), Center or Margin. Revisions of the English Renaissance in Honor of Leeds Barroll, Cranbury, Rosemont, 2006, p. 27-40, see in particular p. 33-36.
38 I am here using – and transforming – Lisa Jardine and Jerry Brotton’s subtitle to Global Interests (op. cit.): ‘East and West fixed each other with an equal reciprocal gaze.’Haut de page
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Anne-Valérie Dulac, « Miniatures between East and West: The Art(s) of Diplomacy in Thomas Roe’s Embassy », Études Épistémè [En ligne], 26 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2014, consulté le 30 avril 2017. URL : http://episteme.revues.org/343 ; DOI : 10.4000/episteme.343Haut de page
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