Thomas Hardwicke was an amateur naturalist and an officer with the Bengal Artillery of the British East India Company. His interest was in the study of animals and especially birds, and he commissioned some of the most beautiful and elegant watercolours rendered in the company style. He employed both European and Indian artists who were trained in the art of the Indian miniature painting, a style that originated in Persia and was introduced into India in the period of Mogul rule.
Hardwicke was vice-president of the Bengal Asiatic Society from 1820 to 1822, an organization that served to promote the study of Indian history and culture. Hardwicke amassed one of the most extensive collections of animal and bird drawings executed on the sub-continent with some published in John Gray’s Illustrations of Indian Zoology of 1830.
When Hardwicke returned to England he turned his house into a museum to display his vast collection. The collection was subsequently bequeathed to the British Museum and now resides with the Natural History Museum, London.
Ref: Judith Magee, The Art of India, The Natural History Museum, London 2013