Skip to main content
Romita Ray  (Kapoor)

Romita Ray (Kapoor)

Associate Professor, Art History and Department Chair
Art & Music Histories

308 G Bowne Hall

Research and Teaching Interests

Romita Ray specializes in the art and architecture of the British Empire in India. At Syracuse University, she teaches European art and architecture (18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries), Indian art and architecture, post-colonial theory, theories of Orientalism, and film studies. She is an editorial board member for the Journal of South Asian Studies and a member of the Advisory Committee for the Indian Council of Historical Research based in New Delhi, India. Dr. Ray has taught at Colby College, the University of Georgia, and Yonsei University (Seoul, Korea). Her research interests center on the art/architecture of the British empire in India, history of science, landscape studies, post-colonial theory, Orientalism in art, and material culture.

Her recent book, in her area of specialty, is about the picturesque in British India. She is currently working on her next book about the visual cultures of tea in colonial and modern India for which she has been awarded a year-long Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to conduct her research in India, the UK, and Sri Lanka. More about this project can be found here:

She occasionally blogs for, an online purveyor of fine estate teas. Her posts can be found on their site or below, on this page, under "Musings."

Dr. Ray welcomes students interested in working on:

  • The Art and Architecture of the British and French Empires
  • Landscape and Empire
  • Animals and Empire
  • Cinema
  • Photography 
  • Orientalism in art
  • Material culture and empire
  • British India
  • Diaspora and post-colonial aesthetics
  • Travel theory
  • Orientalism in American art/architecture

Romita Ray has curated numerous exhibitions while she was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia. She was also the guest curator at the National Portrait Gallery in London, for the British India section of the exhibition, Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850, organized by Dr. Jocelyn Hackforth-Jones in 2007. When she is not musing about tea and the Picturesque, Dr. Ray turns her attention to elephants. For those fans of pachyderms in art, an Elephant of the Month posting can be found outside her office door in Bowne Hall.


  • Ph.D 1999 Yale University
  • M.Phil 1995 Yale University
  • M.A. 1994 Yale University
  • B.A. 1992 Smith College


  • 19th-century European Art
  • 18th-century European Art
  • Art and Architecture of India
  • Art and Music of the British Empire (with professor Amanda Winkler)
  • Art and Empire
  • Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art
  • The Triumph of Modernism
  • Animals and Empire
  • Landscape and Empire
  • Art of Romanticism
  • Realism to Symbolism
  • European Art between the Wars
  • Photography and the Fine Arts
  • Beauty and the Human Body
  • Art, Food, and Film
  • Bollywood Dreams



Under the Banyan Tree: Relocating the Picturesque in British India. Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. London: Yale University Press, 2013 

The Eternal Masquerade: Prints and Paintings by Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (1890-1978) from the Jacob Burns Foundation. Athens: Georgia Museum of Art, 2006

In Progress

Empire and Cultural Change: Visual Arts, Film, and ArchitectureCo-edited with Jos Hackforth-Jones, London: Routledge, forthcoming 2020

From Two Leaves and a Bud: Visualizing Tea in Colonial and Modern India (working title) Manuscript in progress

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

2018. Forthcoming. “Canton to Calcutta: Tea and Chinoiserie in a Colonial Garden.” In De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584-1857), ed. Niranjan Goswami. Kolkata: Jadavpur University Press.

2017. “ ‘A Dazzle of Light’: Edwin Lord Weeks and Royal India.” In India in the American Imaginary, 1770s-1880s, eds. Rajender Kaur and Anupama Arora. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 247-81.

2016. "Ornamental Exotica: Transplanting the Aesthetics of Tea Consumption and the Birth of a British Exotic." In The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century, eds. Yota Batsaki, Sarah Cahalan, Anatole Tchikine. Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. 259-281.

2014. “A Tale of Two Cities: Calcutta/Kolkata.” In The Home and the World, A View of Calcutta: Photographs by Laura McPhee. New Haven: Yale University Press. 136-155.

2014.  “Whose City, Whose Art?” The City and South Asia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard South Asia Institute. 64 – 67.

2014. "All that Glitters: Diamonds and Constructions of Nabobery in British Portraits (1600-1800)." In The Uses of Excess in Visual and Material  Culture, 1700-2010, ed. Julia Skelly. London: Ashgate. 19-40.

2014. “At Home with Durga: The Goddess in a Palace and Corporeal Identity in Rituparno Ghosh's Utsab.” Religions 5:1 (March 2014). Special Issue: Body and Religion. 334-360.

2012. "Going Global, Staying Local: Elihu Yale the Art Collector." Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (December 2012): 34-51.

2012. "Elihu Yale at Yale." Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (December 2012): 52-65.

2012. "Misty Mediations: Spectral Imaginings and the Himalayan Picturesque." Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide (NCAW), Autumn 2012. 11:

2012. "Baron of Bengal: Robert Clive and the Birth of An Imperial Image." In Transculturation in British Art, 1770-1930, ed. Julie Codell. London: Ashgate. 21-38.

2012. "Orientalizing the Bayadère/Fabricating Mata Hari." Photographies 5:1 (March 2012): 87-111. 

2011. "Inscribing Asymmetry: Johann Zoffany's Banyan and 'The Extension of Knowledge'." South Asian Studies 27:2 (2011): 185-198.

2008. "Britain and the World Beyond." Co-author: Angela Rosenthal. In Revised History of British Art (volume 2). General Editor: David Bindman. Tate Britain and  Yale  Center for British Art. 2008. 86-115.

2007. "Storm in a Teacup? Visualising Tea Consumption in the British Empire." In Art and the British Empire.Volume II. Geographies, eds. Tim Barringer, Douglas  Fordham, and Geoff Quilley. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 205-222.

2006. "The Beast in a Box: Playing with Empire in Early 19th-Century Britain." Ed. Ann Bermingham. Visual Resources: An International Journal of Documentation.  Special Edition. XXII: 1 (March 2006): 7-31.

2005. "A Dream of Beauty: Inscribing the English Garden in Victorian India." In Intrepid Women: Victorian Artists Travel, ed. Jordana Pomeroy. London: Ashgate. 51-66.

2005. "The Imperial Canvas: Art and Empire." The Visible Empire, ed. Glyn Porritt. London: Adam Matthews Publications. Co-contributors: Jeffrey Auerbach,  Antoinette Burton (accessible online by subscription only).

1998. "The Memsahib's Brush: Anglo-Indian Women and the Art of the Picturesque, 1830-1880." In Orientalism Transposed: The Impact of the Colonies on British  Culture, eds. Julie F. Codell and Dianne Sachko Macleod. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 1998. 89-116.

Book Reviews

2018. Forthcoming. Sarah Besky, The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 2014) in the European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, 52, August 2018

2016. Natasha Eaton, Mimesis Across Empires: Artworks and Networks in India 1765-1860 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013) in South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies, 39:1, 291-292.

2011. Pauline Rohatgi and Graham Parlett assisted by Shirley Imray and Pheroza Godrej, Indian Life and Landscape by Western Artists: Paintings and Drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum 17th to the Early 20th Century (London: Victoria and Albert Museum and Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, 2008) in British Art Journal,12.3 (Winter 2011): 106.

2008. Joan Coutu, Persuasion and Propaganda: Monuments and the Eighteenth-Century British Empire (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006) in Revue d'art canadienne. XXXIII, 1-2 (2008): 151-153.

2002. Colleen Denney, At the Temple of Art: The Grosvenor Gallery, 1877-1890 (London: Associated University Presses, 2000) in The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite  Studies.11 (Fall 2002): 119-122.

Museum Publications

2018. Forthcoming. “A City of ‘Grecian temples’: Calcutta on the Hooghly.” In Pheroza Godrej, Patrick Conner, and Romita Ray, Kolkata Through Colonial Eyes (working title). Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India).

2017. “ ‘Totally new to the eye of an Englishman:’ The British Artist in India, 1750-1900.” In On the Paths of Enlightenment. The Myth of India in Western Culture 1808-2017, edited by Elio Schenini. Lugano, Switzerland: Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana (24 September 2017-21 January 2018). 68 - 99.

2017. “Where “the Twain” did “Meet”: Bombay and the Making of British Colonial Art” in exhibition catalogue, Pheroza Godrej and Pauline Rohatgi (eds), Bombay to Mumbai: Door of the East With Its Face to the West. Mumbai: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India). 7-20.

2007. Essays on Raja Rammohun Roy, Sake Dean Mahomed and Maharaja Dalip Singh in exhibition catalogue, Jocelyn Hackforth-Jones, ed. Between Worlds:  Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850. National Portrait Gallery, London. 2007. 96-105; 78-87; 105-116.

2004. "Reflections 'on a Lithographile': A Thoroughly Modern Maltby Sykes." In Marilyn Laufer et. al. The Spirit of the Modern: Drawings and Graphics by Maltby Sykes. Exhibition catalogue. Georgia Museum of Art, 2004. 34-46.

1997. "veluti in speculum: Spectatorship in Hogarth's The Beggar's Opera." In "Among the Whores and Thieves": William Hogarth and The Beggar's Opera, eds. David Bindman and Scott Wilcox. New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1997. 35-40.

Podcasts and Videos

On a group portrait featuring Elihu Yale, beneficiary of Yale University, Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Yale Center for British Art, Yale University, October – December 2014

On Company Painting in colonial India, for "Art Through Time: A Global View." 2008-2009. Aired on PBS, Fall 2009.

On "bling" and Maharajas, Atlanta Pecha Kucha, November 2007


"Tigers and Tea." June 2, 2017.

"Madam Superintendent and Durga Puja in a Tea Garden." November 11, 2016.

"A Moustache in a Teacup." September 1, 2016. Voted by Snapzu as among the best "world politics" and "lifestyle" blogs

"An Homage to a Box of Tea: Musings of an Art Historian." August 12, 2016.

Art Through Time. 2009.

"New Architecture in Dubai." 4Men. August 5, 2008.

"Being Cottle Khan." Freehold Monthly (November 2008): 50-53.

"Misunderestimating Stupidity." 4Men (July 2008): 56-58.

Media Coverage

"Caird Fellowship Supports Summer Research." Syracuse University News. November 6, 2018.

"Humanities and Sciences Intersect in 'Water + Photography' Event." Syracuse University News. Wednesday, November 1, 2017.

"Students Light Candles for Diwali." Syracuse University News. Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

"Syracuse University Students and Faculty to Light Up Sculpture Garden for Diwali." Divya Murthy. The Daily Orange. October 18, 2017.

"Go around the world and back with My Lucky Tummy pop-up kitchen." Sarah Allam. The Daily Orange. October 15, 2017.

Research Snapshot. Syracuse University Magazine. Spring 2017. Volume 34, no. 1.

"Valuing the Humanities." Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences: Headlines from the Hall.

Research is her Cup of Tea. College of Arts and Sciences News. Syracuse University News. March 1, 2017.

US Scholar on Tea Trail to Dig Up Treasure Trove. Times of India, April 11, 2016

Sanjit ‘Bunker’ Roy, Meagan Fallone to Visit Central New York April 21-22. Syracuse University News. April 2016

A Spot of Tea. College of Arts and Sciences News.

Light Up the Quad Event Planned for Diwali. Syracuse University News. November 2015

An art historian in the College of Arts and Sciences is the recipient of a 2014 Summer Stipend Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Syracuse University News. May 2014

Ray Smith Symposium Focuses on Commodification, Aesthetics of South Asian Folk Art. Syracuse University News. January 2014.

Classic Profile: Creating art is museum curator's lifelong love. 2002.


Awards, Honors, Grants


  • Caird Short-Term Research Fellowship. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. 2018
  • Snapzu: "A Moustache in a Teacup" voted among the best "world politics" and "lifestyle" blogs. August 2017 
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2016 (January/1/2016 - December/31/2016)
  • Beautiful Data II, Getty Foundation and Metalab, Harvard University Digitizing Workshop Grant/Stipend. July 2015 (declined)
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Stipend. 2009 and 2014
  • Yale Center for British Art. Yale University. Visiting Scholar grant. 2009-2010
  • The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. London. 2009
  • The Georgia Humanities Council. Public Program Grant for symposium organized in  conjunction with exhibition, Regal Bodies, Royal Splendor: Reflections on Velázquez and Philip IV of Spain. 2004
  • Yale Center for British Art. Yale University. Visiting Fellowship. 2004
  • The Lewis Walpole Library Visiting Fellowship. Yale University. 2000-2001
  • Margaret Storrs Grierson Scholars-in-Residence Award. Smith College. 2000-2001
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. The Huntington Library. 1999
  • Eleanor M. Garvey Fellowship in Printing and Graphic Arts. Harvard University. 1996-97

Syracuse University

  • 'CUSE Grant Program. Interdisciplinary Seminar Grant ($10,000) for 2018-20.
  • Outstanding Undergraduate Faculty Advisor of the Year 2016 -17. College of Arts and Sciences. 2017
  • Syracuse University Humanities Center, Syracuse Symposium "Networks": speaker funds ($4000) for April 2016
  • Syracuse University Humanities Center, Syracuse Symposium "Networks": speaker funds ($3000) for November 2015
  • Chancellor's Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship: Inspiration Award. April 2015
  • Ray Smith Symposium: Transformations in South Asian Folk Art, Aesthetics, Commodities ($18,750; with professors Susan Wadley and Tula Goenka). February 2014
  • College of Arts and Sciences. Book subvention grant, 2010
  • William P. Tolley New Faculty Summer Stipend. Syracuse University. March 2007
  • College of Arts and Sciences. Travel grants to present a paper at the International Conference on Travel and Literature (New Delhi, India) and to participate in exhibition opening and conference for "Between Worlds: Voyagers to Britain 1700-1850" (London, UK). February-March 2007 and November 2006
  • Syracuse University, Kauffman Enitiative grant to develop Arts Immersion in a Global Market, 2007-2009
  • College of Arts and Sciences. Book research grant, December 2007

Yale University

  • The Lewis Walpole Library. Graduate Student Summer Fellow (first recipient). 1998
  • Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation Writing Fellowship. 1997-98
  • Paul Mellon Centre Fellowship for Doctoral Research. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. London. 1996-97
  • John F. Enders Fellowship. Yale University. Summer 1996
  • Mary E. Ives Fellowship for Graduate Study. Yale University. 1992-96

Smith College

  • Phyllis Williams Lehman Travel Prize in Art History. Smith College. May 1992
  • Magna cum laude
  • Phi Beta Kappa