New York: The private collection of artist Howard Hodgkin will be featured in a stimulating exhibition displaying his diverse range of Indian works. Although the collection has received high praise in a number of institutions this particular exhibition will show a more complete vision of the collection as a whole.
“Visions of Mughal India” will feature a brand new addition, which has never been displayed before. Prior to this exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff, the Hodgkin collection was missing an essential piece. One of the sumptuous, large temple hangings in the collection was part of a pair of cloth hangings. However, the missing pair was not found until just recently. It displays a natural scene of four young maidens dancing and has the same beautiful quality of the one previously acquired by the Hodgkin collection. This will be the first time the pair is shown together as they were originally intended.
Debuting for the first time in Wales, the Howard Hodgkin collection consists of unusually high quality works. Because it is a personal collection of an artist, each work expresses flawless craftsmanship and technical quality and it is known as one of the most established private collections of Indian art. The newly acquired temple tapestry is a fine example of how much of the collection displays natural and true to life scenes of India. This is motivated by the artist’s love of both India’s urban and natural landscape.
The Howard Hodgkin collection as a whole encompasses many different nuances of Indian court painting, specifically the Mughal period circa 1550-1850. The works in the collection range in time period as well as design motif. Some represent narratives and characters that illustrate the scenery of everyday life in India, while others rely on a more abstract design motif. Through these contrasts in artistic intention, the consistent thread throughout the entire Howard Hodgkin collection is it’s attention to detail and quality. This is truly a private collection loved and curated by an artist in his own right.
The exhibition will be on until November 3, 2013, and several collateral events will be held at the museum to accompany it. For more information click here.
Elisabetta Marabotto of Saffronart in conversation with Malini Roy, curator of the current Mughal exhibition at the British Library, London
Mughal India Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, London
London: On display at the British Library until April 2013, ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’ celebrates the Mughal empire for the first time in its entirety, from its beginning to its eventual decline (1526-1858).
The exhibition, divided thematically, explores the rich cultural heritage the Mughals left in the fields of art, architecture, literature and science, and it also celebrates the patrons that made these innovations and discoveries possible.
I had the pleasure of meeting Malini Roy at the British Library and asking her few questions about the exhibition.
Malini Roy, Curator of Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire, British Library, London
Q: The exhibition Mughal India covers the entire Mughal period for the first time. Why did you decide to cover the entire period and not just focus on a certain aspect or time frame?
A: I decided to focus on the whole Mughal Period because no one really looks at the entire period. Also, my interest and research is on the late Mughal Period and I wanted to include it in this exhibition and the British Library has an extensive collection covering the entire period.
Q: How many works are on display? What is their provenance?
A: There are circa two-hundred works on display. Most of them are from the British Library Collection, the rest are from institutions and museums’ collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), the British Museum (London), the Royal Asiatic Society (London), the Bodleian Library (Oxford), the India Office Library Collection (London) and the Royal Collection (Windsor).
Q: What are the highlights of the exhibition? What is the most significant work for you?
A: There are many highlights of the exhibition [which you can enjoy in the slideshow at the end of the interview] so it is quite difficult to choose a few. Personally I really like “A Panorama of Delhi by Mazhar ‘Ali Khan”. It is an impressive five meter long painting showing the Delhi panorama drawn from the view point of the Lahore Gate of the Red Fort. Also, the playful “Squirrels in a Plane Tree” is one of my favourite works.
Q: At the beginning of the year the Ashmolean Museum presented ‘Visions of Mughal India: The collection of Howard Hodgkin’, and the Fondazione Roma Museo is currently showing: ‘Akbar: The Great Emperor of India’. Now the British Library is hosting ‘Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire’. It is evident that there is a great interest in Mughal India. What is your opinion on this?
A: The interest in Mughal art and culture has been constant. It is one of the most celebrated periods of Indian history. However the last exhibition dedicated to the entire Mughal Period dates 1982 and was held at the Victoria and Albert Museum: ‘The Indian Heritage: Court Life and Arts under Mughal Rule’. So we wanted to remind people of our collection of Mughal miniatures and show these fine works of art.
Q: To whom is this exhibition directed? How many visitors are you expecting? How has the response been so far?
A: Traditionally, British Library exhibitions attract traditional museum visitors. However we have had a quite diverse audience so far, many art and primary school students came to see the exhibition. The response has been very positive, we had very positive reviews from newspapers, art magazines and the exhibition is listed as one of top exhibitions at the moment in London. And we are definitely meeting our target with an average of 360 visitors per day.
Q: What is the main message behind this exhibition?
A: I wanted to showcase the wonderful collection the British Library has and that people don’t know about and also celebrate some the greatest patrons of Indian art and architecture that created some of finest artworks which still witness their grandeur. Also since now the interest seems to be more on modern and contemporary Indian art I wanted to bring the Mughals back under the spot light.
Mughal India: Art, Culture and Empire is definitely a must see if you are in London. The exhibition will make you experience traditional Mughal life during your visit and educate you through superb works of art.
More information on the exhibition can be found on the British Library website. Below you can enjoy a slideshow of highlights from the exhibition.
Dr. Malini Roy is the Curator of Visual Arts at the British Library. Her field of research focuses on later Mughal painting and Company paintings produced during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century in the provinces of Awadh and Bengal as well as at the Mughal capital of Delhi.