Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art

This exhibition explores the art made for patrons rooted Persian, Central Asian, and European cultures who came to India between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries to rule territories or conduct trade. Many of them settled in India for prolonged periods and commissioned paintings from local Indian artists who adapted their styles and traditional ways of working to accommodate the wishes of their new patrons. The fusion of Indian and foreign styles and genres blended together to create new art forms, such as the celebrated works of imperial Mughal painting.

In four main sections this exhibition presents the unfolding of the history of Mughal paintings, including its sources in indigenous and Persian art and literature. The first section features South Asian indigenous traditions of sacred, devotional manuscripts. Visitors are introduced to the practice of illustrating books of Persian poetry for elite patrons in the second section of the exhibition. When artists of these two traditions came together under imperial Mughal patronage in the sixteenth century, a new artistic style was born.

Prints and paintings brought to India by Jesuit missionaries were objects of interest and amusement for Mughal painters during the late sixteenth through early eighteenth centuries, and they selectively incorporated styles and motifs into their works. By the middle of the eighteenth century, British merchant families of the British East India Company began to settle in new port cities of India, and they commissioned Indian artists to document the remarkable flora, fauna, peoples, and sights of India in paintings they would bring back to England. These large-scale “Company School” paintings are on view in the fourth section of Into India.

Through this presentation of 106 works of art and its accompanying catalogue and feature film, visitors will understand the extraordinary ways that Indian artists adjusted their styles and altered their traditional modes of practice while nevertheless maintaining an underlying quality that remains unmistakably Indian.

All of these paintings are drawn from the collection of Edwin Binney 3rd. Beginning in 1958, his primary collecting interest would be Indian and Islamic art for over twenty-five years. An active trustree at The San Diego Museum of Art. he left his collection of South Asian paintings and manuscripts—consisting of 1,453 objects—to the Museum, where earned the just reputation as a singularly encyclopedic cache of South Asian art.


Last Updated on Monday, 07 October 2013 16:49