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The Storming of Seringapatam

  • Object:

    Panorama key

  • Place of origin:

    London (published)

  • Date:

    1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Lee, John (maker)
    Porter, Robert Ker (Sir), born 1777 - died 1842 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Woodcut and letterpress, ink on paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Randall Davies, Esq.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 120, The Wolfson Galleries, case 17, shelf DR1

Object Type
Panoramas were a popular form of entertainment at the beginning of the 19th century. There was fierce competition among their promoters to achieve the biggest, the most topical or the most realistic. To guide the audience, printed 'keys' or diagrams identifying and explaining the events and personalities depicted were produced and sold. This woodcut print is a typical example.

Subjects Depicted
Patriotic paintings with themes showing British military victories were naturally very popular. The defeat at Seringapatam of Tipu, Sultan of Mysore by General George Harris (1746-1829) in 1799 was no exception, especially since Tipu had unwisely tried to ally himself with the French. France was Britain's main colonial rival in India and her enemy in the Napoleonic wars.

Sir Robert Ker Porter (1777-1842) made his name with vast panoramas of topical battles exhibited at the Lyceum in London. The Storming of Seringapatam was a semi-circular painting measuring no less than 120 feet across. He was also commissioned by the British Government as a propaganda artist. In a series of prints and drawings he luridly portrayed the deeds of Napoleon in his Egyptian campaign. Following the success of the panoramas at the Lyceum, in 1804 Alexander I, Tsar of Russia (ruled 1801-1825), appointed Ker Porter as Historical Painter to his court in St Petersburg.

Physical description

Key to a panorama

Place of Origin

London (published)


1800 (made)


Lee, John (maker)
Porter, Robert Ker (Sir), born 1777 - died 1842 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Woodcut and letterpress, ink on paper

Marks and inscriptions

The woodcut signed 'Lee sc'


Height: 34.5 cm paper, Width: 42.5 cm paper

Object history note

Made by John Lee (active 1794-1804); based on a painting by Sir Robert Ker Porter (born in Durham, 1777, died in St Petersburg, Russia, 1842); published in London

Descriptive line

Engraving key to a panorama: The Storming of Seringapatam

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1926, London: Board of Education, 1927.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
This is a key to the people and events in a vast semi-circular painted panorama of the storming of Seringapatam, shown at the Lyceum in London. It depicted a famous British victory in India in 1799. The display was visited by the hero celebrated here, General Harris. The painting was less concerned with high art and more with catering for patriotic and imperial sentiments. [27/03/2003]


Printing ink




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