Exhibition: ‘The Art of Courtly Lucknow’

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on April 6, 2011

I’m afraid this exhibition slipped past me when it was at LACMA. It opens today, however, at the Musée Guimet in Paris. Thanks to Hélène Bremer for pointing it out. The following description comes from the LACMA press release:

India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow / Une cour royale en Inde: Lucknow
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 12 December 2010 — 27 February 2011
Musée National des Arts asiatiques-Guimet, Paris, 6 April — 11 July 2011

Curated by Stephen Markel and Tushara Bindu Gude

Exhibition catalogue, 272 pages, ISBN: 9783791350752

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art presents India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow—the first major international exhibition devoted to the cosmopolitan culture of the northern Indian court of Lucknow, and the refined artistic production of the city’s multiethnic residents and artists. On view from December 12, 2010 through February 27, 2011, the exhibition will include almost 200 artworks: European oil paintings, watercolors, and prints; Indian opaque watercolor paintings generally made for albums, vintage photography, textiles, and garments, and a range of decorative art objects including metalwork, glassware, weaponry, and jewelry. Organized by Stephen Markel, LACMA curator of South & Southeast Asian art and department head, and Tushara Bindu Gude, associate curator, The Art of Courtly Lucknow will not only present the unique artistic traditions of Lucknow, but will also provide a framework for understanding the history of this extraordinary region and the nature of India’s colonial history and memory. . . .

After Johann Zoffany, "Colonel Polier Watching a Nautch," gouache on paper, ca. 1786-88 (Zurich: Museum Rietberg)

Lucknow was the capital of Awadh (a province in the Mughal Empire located in the present-day Indian state of Uttar Pradesh), and has become identified with the broader region and culture. From the mid-eighteenth century until the establishment of formal British rule in India in 1858, Lucknow overshadowed Delhi—the capital of the Mughal dynasty—to become the cultural center of northern India. Indian artists, poets, and courtiers flocked to Awadh seeking security and patronage, as Delhi suffered an extended period of unrest beginning in 1739. European artists, travelers and political agents were also soon lured to the region, seduced by tales of the wealth, opulence, and the generosity of Lucknow’s rulers (nawabs) and by the beauty of the city itself. The dynamic interaction between Indians and Europeans, the interplay
between their respective tastes and traditions, and the hybrid
lives led by many of Lucknow’s residents are explored in the
exhibition and accompanying publication. (more…)