Flying Foxes and Banyan Tree
Gold’s images illustrate the change in attitude towards India that had taken place during the preceding thirty years of British conquest. Gone is the sense of wonder at India expressed during the first wave of European Romanticism. In its place is a view of Indian culture as degenerate.
Flying Foxes and Banyan Tree demonstrates this change. Whereas in previous decades the spiritual meaning of the Banyan tree in Hindoo cultural life had been acknowledge and represented with respect, in Gold’s drawing it becomes the backdrop to a scene showing a British officer shooting flying-foxes for sport. An Indian attendant carries water for the officers’ whisky, and a Seepoy reloads rifles. A naked ascetic perches beneath the tree. The scene is a parody of a shooting party on an English country estate. (Next)