Indian paintings in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery from July 2014
Visitors to the Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library may have encountered our display of Indian paintings next to the entrance to the Magna Carta. As part of the conservation programme, the paintings are rotated every few months. If you missed the display on the portraits of rulers of Rajasthan, you can still view a selection on the Asian and African Studies Blog.
Selecting paintings to display is no easy task: the libraryâ€™s collection holds a diverse range of Indian paintings that date mainly from the 16-19th centuries. Popular genres and themes for the display can be drawn from portrait studies, illustrations to literary themes, religious subjects and from the 19th century onwards on architecture. In consultation with exhibitions and conservation, the selection is placed into the gallery.
The theme for the current selection is â€˜Art of the Bookâ€™ and includes elegant visualisations of the ever so popular Hindu deity Krishna with his beloved Radha, Prince Rama and his brother Lakshman pinned by serpentine arrows, and illustrations to the Indian classical music known as ragamala (garland of musical modes). Some of the highlights are featured below:
Radha makes love to Krishna by a grove. An illustration to a Rasakapriya of Keshav Das. Kangra, c.1820. Attributed to Purkhu and his school. Add.Or.26
The Sir John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library hosts a permanent free display of the library's greatest treasures. It is usually open 7 days a week.
Additional material held in the Visual Arts department at the British Library can be viewed by appointment in the Print Room (Asian & African Studies Reading Room). Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an appointment. The Print Room is generally open Monday-Friday, from 2-5pm.