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Bringing Indian treasures to Canada

July 22, 2010 01:45 IST

The Art Gallery of Ontario will host an exhibition titled the 'Maharaja: The Splendor of India's Royal Courts' from November 20, 2010 to February 27, 2011.

It will partly coincide with India Year in Canada. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced 2011 as India Year during his visit to Canada last month.

The exhibition, being organised in collaboration with London's Victoria and Albert Museum, will also have works on loan from the Qatar Museums Authority, the British Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Asian Art Museum, Cartier, the National Portrait Gallery and various private lenders, besides India.

"Many of the arts of India exist today as a result of the patronage of the maharajas," said Dr Stephen Inglis, adjunct curator of the exhibition and curator emeritus, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa.

"Their support of artists resulted in splendid and beautiful objects symbolic of royal status, power and identity, as well as the survival of many forms of dance and music. Because of their support, these traditions lived on, and now allow us the opportunity to stage such an amazing display of art and artifacts," he added.

The exhibition features over 200 pieces, including paintings, tapestries, thrones, weapons and jewels, most of which will be on display in North America for the first time.

The exhibits 'span the last 300 years of India's culture,' said a media release.

The exhibition also 'looks at the legacy of the Maharajas today and it examines the social and historical role of these kings and their courts, bringing to light the ancient royal traditions that have permeated the lives of descendants worldwide.'

The key works in the show include Maharaja Ranjit Singh's throne, a life-sized model elephant adorned with textiles and trappings and accompanied by a silver howdah from the early 19th century, a carriage made of silver commissioned by the maharaja of Bhavnagar and the Patiala Necklace, which has 2,930 diamonds and weighs almost 1,000 carats.

"This is an exhibition of exploration and education. We look forward to sharing with the communities that are so directly in touch with this extraordinary culture," said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and chief executive officer, AGO.

Image: A painting to be exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Ajit Jain