Candlenut

The candlenut tree (Aleurites moluccanus) bears fruit that are almost round, with two nut-like seeds about 2.5 cm long. These seeds are very oily, and can be lit and burn like candles, or the oil can be extracted and either used for lamps or in cooking. In Ayurvedic medicine the nuts are used in the treatment of skin diseases.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.

Company School style paintings became popular with wealthy Europeans. It was not uncommon for East India Company officials (who were not employed as medics or botanists) to build their own personal collections of paintings depicting Indian flora and fauna. We cannot be sure how local amateur botanist Richard Cresswell came by this collection of 86 Company School works. It is possible Henry Creighton commissioned them during his time as a judge in Calcutta and that on his death the works came back to the UK with his daughter Frances who later married Richard Cresswell.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
19/1927/2/42
Category
Fine Art
Collection Class
Drawings
Medium
watercolour on paper
Common Name
candlenut
Simple Name
drawing
Inscription Transcription
HERB. MUS. EXON CRESSWELL COLLECTION 19/1927; Aleurites Moluccana Willd.; No 42
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)
Production Town
Calcutta
Production County
Bengal
Production Country
India
Production Person Surname
anon
Production Year Low
1780
Production Year High
1810

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Aleurites Moluccana Willd