Indian Portraiture in London

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on March 20, 2010

The Indian Portrait, 1560-1860
National Potrait Gallery, London, 11 March – 20 June 2010

"Kunwar Anop Singh of Devgarh Riding with a Falcon" Devgarh, Mewar, Rajasthan attributed to Bakhta, ca. 1776 © Museum Rietberg Zurich.

This exhibition, the first of its kind in the UK, tells the story of the Indian portrait over three centuries, exploring the fascinating ways in which Indian artists have approached the depiction of the human form and the changing role of portraiture in Indian history. Bringing together 60 stunning works from international collections, the exhibition will celebrate the beauty, power and humanity of these works of art. The exhibition begins with works from the Mughal Court, including some of the earliest realistic portraits made for the Emperors Humayun (r.1530–56) and Akbar (r.1556–1605) and the magnificent court portraits made for their successors Jahangir (r.1605–27) and Shah Jahan (r.1628–58), as well as studies of Mughal courtiers, holy men and servants. The distinctive regional styles from Rajasthan and the Punjab Hills are also shown alongside the European–influenced works produced by Indian artists under British rule. These paintings are a record of a rich and complex history, embracing influences from Iran and Europe as well as local Hindu and Muslim traditions, showing that the Indian portrait can stand shoulder to shoulder with outstanding examples of portraiture from around the world.

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Two-Day Conference: Portraiture in South Asia
National Portrait Gallery and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 21-22 May 2010

This conference will assess the character of portraiture, visual and literary representations of the individual in South Asia from 1500 to 1900. Though widespread in Europe, studies of portraiture in Asia are more unusual because of the common perception that it is largely a Western phenomenon. Speakers include Ebba Koch, Chris Pinney, J.P. Losty and Crispin Branfoot. First day at the National Portrait Gallery, second day at SOAS. Tickets: £50/£40 concessions and £20 students.

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Press coverage of the exhibition can be found at the London Times and the BBC. Kathryn Hadley provides a useful summary at History Today.

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