This watercolour is sheet no.2 in a folio of Indian sketches
made in 1792-1794 by Lieutenant Thomas Marriott while serving as an officer in the Madras Army of the British East India Company.
The sketch records preparations for a colonial military operation known as the [fourth] Siege of Pondicherry, an operation that took place in the early stages of the French Revolutionary Wars of the late 18th century after news reached India in June 1793 that France had declared war on Britain in February 1793. Led by Colonel John Braithwaite, acting Commander-in-Chief of the Madras Army, part of the British colonial forces in India, mobilised to launch an attack on the centre of French colonial settlement in India, the fortress of Pondicherry [now Puducherry] on the Coromandel coast. Braithwaite’s forces reached the outskirts of the city on 28 July 1793 and established positions on the Red Hills overlooking Pondicherry. The siege was initiated on 1 August and the French surrendered on 23 August.
Marriott records the scene from memory one month after the surrender. His sketch indicates the supporting presence off the coast of the British naval frigate Minerva and three ‘East Indiamen’, ships belonging to the British East India Company. In the bottom right of the sketch is a tomb - relating to an earlier siege of Pondicherry - ‘Sacred to the memory of Major Stevens killed by a cannon shot when Chief Engineer at the Siege of Pondicherry 1778. Erected by Sir Henry Munro Commander in Chief’. [MM, September 2019]