The export of opium from India to China was crucial in financing British rule of India. However, in 1839, Chinese authorities banned the use of opium, as British merchants immorally profited from the legal sale in China, while the drug was banned in Britain. In 1841 and 1856, the British navy attacked China in an attempt to open its ports to British opium exports. This resulted in wide scale opium addiction.
Colin Campbell (1792-1863), the man portrayed in this bust, commanded the 98th Regiment of Foot during the First Opium War (1839-42) before going on to command a brigade during the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49).
This portrait is a part of the Flux: Parian unpacked, which is a bold installation by ceramic artist and curator Matt Smith, displaying for the first time over 100 busts from the newly-acquired Glynn collection of parian ware. Seeking to understand why Museums and society celebrate some historical figures, but not other, the exhibition challenges established notions of British history and colonialism.
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