How an Englishman captured vibrant hues of a colonial Calcutta transforming into a commercial hub


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Between the late 18th century and early 19th century, Calcutta transitioned dramatically from a monopoly under the English East India Company to a flourishing hub of private enterprise. The Charter Act of 1813 marked a turning point that broke the Company’s stranglehold on trade, except for opium and tea. William Prinsep, 23, entered this newly opened market to work as an agent for the silk trade of his brother-in-law George Haldimand in Calcutta in 1817. It was a departure from the restricted trade environment his father, John Prinsep, had experienced in the late 18th century. John Prinsep was among the...