They may not have had Instagram or Pinterest at their disposal but they were influencers to boot, using their artistic skills to showcase exotic India to the world through their drawings and paintings, sometimes converted to sets of aquatints. Take a look at the ongoing exhibition titled New Found Lands The Indian Landscape from Empire to Freedom to see some of these paintings.
Presented by DAG and curated by Dr Giles Tillotson, the exhibition covers the evolution of Indian landscape painting from 1780 to 1980, and is divided into three parts &ndash The Picturesque Landscape, The Naturalist Landscape, and the Free Landscape.
Apart from their aesthetic appeal, many of the paintings will resonate with avid travellers. Artists such as William Hodges, and Thomas and William Daniell, travelled across India in the 18th century, interpreting the landscape through their brushes and paints. From famous monuments to derelict buildings, from natural landscapes to livelihood of people, nothing escaped their attention. There are also a large number of exhibits from the Company School (also called Patna painting, style of miniature painting that developed in India in the second half of the 18th century in response to the tastes of the British serving with the East India Company, according to the Britannica website).
One of the most interesting exhibits is &lsquoA View of the Gate of the Tomb of the Emperor Akbar, at Secundrii, 1786&rsquo by Hodges. According to the title card, Hodges &lsquoaltered the shape of the arches of the gate and introduced a little Gothic ruin&rsquo, partly to prove his argument that Islamic architecture is related to Gothic and partly to make it more understandable to his Western viewers familiar with Giovanni Battista Piranesi&rsquos famous views of Rome.
The Daniells&rsquo &lsquoView of Mutura, on the River Jumna, 1803&rsquo not only shows the city across the Yamuna but also domes and minarets of the mosque built by Mughal governor Abd-un Nabi in 1660.
A view of the Elephants Caves by Thomas Daniell, Rajmahal Hills by William Parker, ruins near Firoz Shah Kotla by an anonymous artist, Chini Ka Rauza or the Qutb Minar by the Company Painters, are some of the other interesting paintings.
The exhibition is also a good place to catch glimpses of some of the landscape paintings by Indian artists from the 1920s &ndash MK Parandekar&rsquos paintings of Srinagar&rsquos natural landscape will surely make you nostalgic.  SL Haldankar&rsquos artistic interpretation of the old fort at Panhala (1916) or NR Sardesai&rsquos watercolour of the Jogeshwari Caves (of Mumbai, 1940) will ask you to see these popular places in a new light. Or you may want to compare DC Joglekar&rsquos paintings of old Ambarnath Temple or the Naroshankar Temple of Nasik with their present condition.
The exhibition is being held at Fuller Building in New York until May 31. Those unable to visit it in person may take a virtual tour here.