The Scavenger!

John Jukes (1772-1851)


According to India Office Library specialist Mildred Archer writing in her book India and British Portraiture 1770-1825, at least 28 British portrait miniature artists were lured to India in the hope of making a richer living. Amongst them was John Jukes who in 1813 sailed for Bombay where he already had a relative working in the Bombay Medical Services. Bombay must have pleased him as Jukes was to remain there until 1824 during which time he was indeed well patronised. At a farewell dinner held in his honour his work was praised as ‘almost every person belonging to [the Bombay] Presidency had some token of his talents connected with the dearest objects of their affection’.

Drawn in Bombay in February 1824 and shown with a ship on the horizon, the sitter in this portrait is named as 33 year old George A. W. Trotter. Employed by the East India Company, he was listed by them in 1826 as a ‘scavenger’. In addition to removing dirt off the streets and authorising repairs, scavengers were empowered to collect house taxes. Presumably he did well at the job as Trotter was subsequently promoted to ‘Overseer of the Streets’.

Painted in watercolour on card, the portrait is set in a papier-mâché frame with an unusual ‘Beard Patented’ ribbon style hanger.

Item Ref. 6188

Size: framed, 162 x 153mm (6⅜ x 6")