Further to the new Regulating Act which called for the establishment of law courts in Calcutta, Sir Elijah Impey was nominated Chief Justice in Bengal in 1774 and moved to Calcutta with his wife, Lady Impey. The couple soon developed an interest in the local artistic production and employed a large group of artists, commissioning drawings of flora and fauna that were typical of the Indian subcontinent.
Produced between 1777 and 1783, the Impey album included 326 detailed drawings of birds, animals, and various exotic plants; each identified with their respective Arabic or Persian name and often with a translation in English. Several artists worked for Lady Impey including the renowned Shaykh Zayn al-Din, Bhawani Das (the artist of the present painting) and Ram Das.
The largest collection of fish drawings are now in the Wellcome Collection, London; most of these drawings are all signed by Bhawani Das and each one bear the fish’s Arabic name on the left hand side and often a number on the upper left corner (see among many inv.no. 566704i, 566697i, 566658i, 566764i, 566752i). Another drawing of a fish was offered in these Rooms in 24 April 2013, lot 107.