Exhibition | The Fabric of India

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on October 4, 2015

I noted this exhibition last fall, but it’s worth following up now that the show is on view at the V&A (3 October 2015 — 10 January 2016). The press release is available as a PDF file here, with information on the catalogue included below. CH

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From the V&A shop:

Rosemary Crill, The Fabric of India (London: V&A Publishing, 2015), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1851778539, £30 / $60.

614+N-ASc6L._SX429_BO1,204,203,200_This is the first truly comprehensive book on Indian textiles, featuring stunning examples from all over the country. Lavishly illustrated, it begins with an in-depth exploration of the different materials, techniques, and dyeing processes used in the creation of these sumptuous fabrics before exploring the central importance of cloth to Indian life and culture from ancient times to the present day. Special features focus on objects of historical importance, including a Kashmir map shawl, Tipu Sultan’s tent, and a remarkable 18th-century temple hanging from South India.

While many are familiar with Mughal velvets, western-market chintzes, or rural embroideries, for example, this book will surprise, inspire, delight, and inform with an extraordinary range of material, much of it new. Along with presenting great historical masterpieces, the importance and variety of the basic fibers—silk, cotton, wool—from which Indian textiles are traditionally made is emphasized, and the remarkable techniques of weaving, printing, dyeing, and embroidery that have made them prized across the world are illustrated in specially taken photographs.

VMFA Acquires Royal Portrait by Benjamin West

Posted in museums by Editor on October 4, 2015


Benjamin West, Portrait of Prince William and h­­­is Elder Sister, Princess Sophia, 1779, oil on canvas, 61 x 85 inches
(Richmond: VMFA).

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From the VMFA press release (1 October 2015) . . .

At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, an important work by American painter Benjamin West was recently installed in the McGlothlin American Galleries. The portrait was acquired during the June 18 meeting of the VMFA Board of Trustees and is among the most valuable acquisitions in VMFA history.

Benjamin West, known as the ‘father of American painting’, was at one point the most prominent painter in the British Empire. He served as President of the Royal Academy, History Painter to the King, and Surveyor of the King’s Pictures until his death in 1820. While in London, he also mentored American artists Charles Wilson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and John Trumball—each of whom is represented in VMFA’s American Galleries. This is one of six group portraits commissioned by King George III during the American Revolution. Intended as a gift for the king’s brother, HRH Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh, it is the only one of the six outside the Royal Collection. Descended in the family of George III, whose daughter HRH Princess Mary wed the sitter, Prince William, the painting celebrates the king’s protection of his niece and nephew at a moment during their father’s ill-health. In acknowledgement of the king’s generosity, the children and father—symbolized by the robe and crown—signal their obedience to the king, symbolized by the lion. This patriarchal narrative of duty and protection served a dual purpose as wartime propaganda. As the king served to protect his subjects, so his subjects—the colonists—owed their obedience to the king.

The acquisition of Portrait of Prince William and h­­­is Elder Sister, Princess Sophia was made possible by the J. Harwood and Louise B. Cochrane Fund for American Art. Since 1988, this permanent endowment has provided support for the acquisition of historic American paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts, ca. 1700–1945, including those native to Virginia. It has been funded with outright gifts, 220 parcels of real estate in Manchester, and their former home and farm in Hanover County.  Proceeds from the sales of the real estate have been added to the Cochrane endowment principal. The endowment is now nearly 30 years old and has underwritten 79 important American acquisitions

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