Interesting bit of history, there.
The painting you asked about certainly captures the imagination for
its allegorical assertion about the place in the 18th century world of
Britain and the East India Company (EIC).
A great deal has been written about EIC of course, and about this
period in UK history. But there are only sparse bits of information
on the painting itself.
For starters, the best online image of the painting itself appears to
be this one from the British Library:
The East offering its riches to Britannia.
...Allegorical ceiling piece commissioned by the East India Company in
1777 for the Revenue Committee Room in East India House. Oil on
This article from The Guardian offers an interesting architectural and
cultural perspective on the painting, its building and its builders:
...'As architectural statements go, the Foreign Office on Whitehall
must be one of the most brazenly self-confident buildings ever
constructed. Its 19th-century bulk is festooned inside and out with
symbols of imperial superiority: marble shipped in from far-flung
dominions; sculptures, carvings and murals representing Britain's
possessions, heroes and virtues; allegorical paintings with titles
such as The East Offering Its Riches to Britannia. This sumptuous
palace designed by George Gilbert Scott, was once the throbbing heart
of the empire, from which British power spread to outposts in
virtually every country on the map. Today, though, the flow has been
reversed. Where Britain's overseas embassies were once the application
points of national might, they are now starting to look like exposed
extremities, and direct channels back to a sensitive homeland.
Here's a bit more on the painting, along with some study notes:
The National Archives
...Notes on: Wall painting from the head offices of the British East
India Company, 1778
This one surprised me. Some folks suggest that the flag of the EIC,
which can be seen in the painting (on the ship), is the precursor of
the Stars and Stripes of the USA:
...The origin of the Stars and Stripes has been attributed to many
different people and events...Very few people have heard of the
precursor to the Stars and Stripes - the Grand Union Flag. And of
those who have heard of this flag very few are aware that it is the
exact same flag as the flag of the East India Company.
...'The STRIPED FLAG of the EAST INDIA COMPANY, and its CONNEXION with
the AMERICAN "STARS and STRIPES"'...Spiridione Roma's mural in the
Foreign and Commonwealth office
The painting is cited in this article, but I do not have access to its
full text, thus do not know the context in which it's discussed.
Nevertheless, I wanted to point it out:
NATION AND EMPIRE IN THE GOVERNMENT ARCHITECTURE OF MID-VICTORIAN
LONDON: THE FOREIGN AND INDIA OFFICE RECONSIDERED
The Historical Journal (2005), 48: 703-742 Cambridge University Press
A librarian may be able to get you a copy of this.
You can read a few pages on the painting, EIC, and the context of the
times at the link from Google Books:
British Sculpture and the Company Raj: Church Monuments and Public
Statuary in Madras, Calcutta,...
By Barbara S Groseclose
...This book looks at the complicated ways that sculptures sent to
India from London during the heyday of the East India Company invoked
and ensured a rationale for the British presence in India.
Oddly, there is a similarly titled, and similarly designed image that
preceded the "East offering..." painting by quite a few years, and is
thought to be the inspiration for it:
...The former India Office is one of the most opulent parts of the FCO
buildings...Above the fireplace can be found a carved overmantel by
Michael Rysbrack dating from 1730 depicting "Britannia receiving the
riches of the East Indies". In the carving, behind the figure of
Britannia stand two female figures symbolising Asia and Africa. Asia
is shown leading a camel and Africa a lion.
...The India Office Council Chamber, with marble chimneypiece by
Michael Rysbrack dating from 1730. This depicts Britannia receiving
the riches of the East.
[You can see the image of the chimneypiece very faintly here, but you
can make out the resemblance to Roma's painting]
The links below are to books available at Amazon.com. If you are
registered at Amazon (there is no charge) you can actually search
inside the text of the books, and see the pages related to the
painting (much as with the Google Books link that I gave you earlier):
A Concise History of India
Barbara D. Metcalf
...In a chapter on "The emergence of regional states and the East
India Company", the authors discuss the rise of the East India Company
even in spite of the emerging might of the Mughal Empire in India.
The context of the companies trade and increasing economic might is
discussed, and the painting is referenced several times. The
companies policies in India were referred to as "military fiscalism"
by the authors.
Europe and the World, 1650-1830
Discusses the painting in the context of the EIC's advernturism in
Asia, and the UK's prominence in world trade.
I trust this information fully answers your question.
However, please don't rate this answer until you have everything you
need. If you would like any additional information, just post a
Request for Clarification to let me know how I can assist you further,
and I'm at your service.
All the best,
search strategy -- searched Google, Google Scholar, Google Books,
a9.com and several scholarly and art history databases for [ "east
offering its riches" ]