Art News & Views

Two New Galleries for the Art of Asia opens at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

Boston. The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) opened two new galleries to feature 4,000 years of Asian art. The first, Asian Paintings Gallery, showcases rotations of rich painting traditions of India, Korea, the Himalayas and Persia. The Asian Paintings Gallery opened on December 10, 2011 beginning with an important collection of Indian works in the exhibition Gems of Rajput Painting. The other, South Asian and Southeast Asian Sculpture Gallery which opened on December 15, 2011, celebrates rare sculptural works from India and neighbouring countries (South Asia) and Southeast Asia. The two new galleries will reflect a broad range of cultures- from Iran to the west and Indonesia to the east, and from the Himalayas to the north and Sri Lanka. Highlights include Buddhist, Hindu and Jain works. The new galleries are located on Level 1 near the Museum's Huntington Avenue Entrance.

Drawing from the museum’s extensive holdings, the inaugural exhibition showcases 35 paintings and manuscript illustrations from the 12th to 21st centuries. These paintings and manuscript illustrations represent the height of the artistic traditions developed at the many Rajput courts. The exhibition, on view through September 3, 2012, is divided into four themes that focus on great heroic narratives, women and pairs of lovers, Krishna and Hindu worship, and courtly life.

The Gems of Rajput Painting draws from the Museum's holdings of some 1,200 Indian paintings and drawings ranging in date from the 12th to the 21st centuries. This specific type of painting was commissioned during the 16th to 19th centuries by rulers (Rajputs) who shared a common elite culture centered on Hindu worship, Sanskrit poetry, and the fierce pride of warrior clans. The 35 paintings and manuscript illustrations included in the exhibition represent the height of the artistic traditions developed at workshops associated with the many Rajput courts in Rajasthan, Central India, and the foothills of the Himalayas. Rajput paintings were usually painted on paper in watercolour (gouache), often brightly hued with gold accents. This exquisite type of Indian painting, one of the strengths of the MFA’s Indian collection, was discovered only in the past 100 years by Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877–1947), who was the MFA’s first curator of Indian art and the first such curator in the United States.

Gems of Rajput Painting is divided into four themes of particular interest to Rajput painters: romance, devotion, heroism, and courtly life. Hindu gods also figure prominently in Rajput paintings as symbols of spiritual purity. Two noteworthy devotional works in the exhibitions are Devagandhari Ragini and Krishna Celebrates Holi with Radha and the Gopis, about 1750–1760, attributed to Nihal Chand.

Tags: art, antique

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