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Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

(1725-1774), Governor of Bengal

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue Entry

Sitter in 9 portraits
Robert Clive is one of the most controversial figures in British history, responsible for establishing the East India Company’s power over much of India and amassing vast personal wealth. Clive first worked in Madras in 1744 as a clerk of the East India Company. Given responsibility for supplying provisions to the company’s troops, he began to acquire his fortune. Despite no formal military training, he joined the company’s military service and saw success in battle. In 1751 he fought the French for control of southern India. In 1756 he recaptured Calcutta, and at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, he defeated the Nawab, the governor of Bengal, and took control of the region. Having established Mir Jafar as the new Nawab, Clive and company officials plundered the treasury. Clive served twice as Governor of Bengal, increasing taxes, decreasing wages and failing to respond to droughts and floods. His actions are regarded as being responsible for establishing the preconditions for the Bengal Famine of 1769-1770 in which 3 million died. A charge he denied at the time. He was criticised by many for the vast wealth he amassed in India. Following the Bengal Famine, demands were made for an inquiry into corruption charges and in 1772 the East India Company acknowledged a need for reform. Clive sat on the select committee of inquiry and was called as witness.

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Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, by John van Nost the Younger, and  'C.G.' - NPG 1688

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

by John van Nost the Younger, and 'C.G.'
silver medal, 1766
NPG 1688

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, studio of Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt) - NPG 39

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

studio of Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
oil on canvas, circa 1773 or after
NPG 39

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, by James Macardell, after  Thomas Gainsborough - NPG D33528

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

by James Macardell, after Thomas Gainsborough
mezzotint, 1762-1764
NPG D33528

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, by Francesco Bartolozzi, after  Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt) - NPG D42733

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

by Francesco Bartolozzi, after Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
stipple engraving, 1788
NPG D42733

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, after Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt) - NPG D33530

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

after Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
stipple engraving, 19th century
NPG D33530

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, by W.T. Mote, after  Miss Jane Drummond, after  Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt) - NPG D33529

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

by W.T. Mote, after Miss Jane Drummond, after Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
stipple engraving, published 1833
NPG D33529

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, by William Derby, after  Miss Jane Drummond, after  Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt) - NPG D23074

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

by William Derby, after Miss Jane Drummond, after Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
pencil, circa 1835-1842
NPG D23074

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, by James Scott, after  James Macardell, after  Thomas Gainsborough - NPG D33527

Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive

by James Scott, after James Macardell, after Thomas Gainsborough
mezzotint, published 1871 (1762-1764)
NPG D33527

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