In Pursuit of the Past: Collecting Old Art in Modern India circa 1900 - 1950

Pal, Pratapaditya

Published by Marg Foundation
ISBN 10: 9383243090 / ISBN 13: 9789383243099
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  • To date, as far as is known, no book has ever been written on the history of collecting in India, either of books or art

For the subcontinent of India, the period from the late 19th to the first half of the 20th century was one of extensive and substantial change. A significant development was the awakening of a sense of national pride, which included an increased awareness and interest in the region's ancient heritage. The explorations of the Archaeological Survey of India (founded in 1861) unearthed several treasures of the past; in addition, the dwindling fortunes of princely families led them to begin disposing of their possessions. As a result, several individuals from wealthy and educated Indian families, as also enlightened European visitors and residents, zealously acquired objects of historic and aesthetic appeal. Today these works of art, preserved in museum or private collections in India and abroad, provide rich materials for the study of India's art history.

This book presents the stories of these pioneering collectors and collections in eminently readable form. Many of the 20th-century collectors were personally known to the author, and he presents interesting, little-known facts about their lives and how they came to acquire some of the prize pieces in their collections. Apart from his own recollections, Dr. Pal has mined the memoirs of other scholars, collectors and dealers, as well as writings and catalogs that provide details of acquisitions and sources. He traces the journey of great works of art over the decades, as collections were sold or gifted away, as a whole or dispersed.

The significant figures of this period come alive in the narrative and their singleminded pursuit of beauty is evident from some of the most significant objects from their collections illustrated here.

Any reader with an interest in India's glorious art traditions will find a wealth of information in this book, presented in the author's inimitable style with insightful comment and observation. Marg is honored to published this magnum opus on the occasion of Dr. Pal completing 80 years.



About the Author: Pratapaditya Pal was the General Editor of Marg from 1993 until his retirement in 2012. A prolific author, eminent art historian, curator and lecturer, specializing in the visual arts and architecture of the Indian subcontinent, Himalaya and Southeast Asia, he has written and edited over 80 books and catalogs as well as published over 100 articles in a wide array of journals. In his long and distinguished career he has been Senior Curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Visiting Curator of Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Fellow for Research at the Norton Simon Museum,
Pasadena. In 2009 he was awarded a Padma Shri by the Government of India.

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Title: In Pursuit of the Past: Collecting Old Art ...
Publisher: Marg Foundation
Book Condition: Very Good

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Book Description Marg / The Marg Foundation, Mumbai, 2015. Hardcover. Color-illus. boards/ivory lettering on moss-green spine. Matching dj with French folds. 180 pp. with mostly color images throughout. For the subcontinent of India, the period from the late 19th to the first half of the 20th century was one of extensive and substantial change. A significant development was the awakening of a sense of national pride, which included an increased awareness and interest in the region's ancient heritage. The explorations of the Archaeological Survey of India (founded in 1861) unearthed several treasures of the past; in addition, the dwindling fortunes of princely families led them to begin disposing of their possessions. As a result, several individuals from wealthy and educated Indian families, as also enlightened European visitors and residents, zealously acquired objects of historic and aesthetic appeal. Today these works of art, preserved in museum or private collections in India and abroad, provide rich materials for the study of India's art history. This book presents the stories of these pioneering collectors and collections in eminently readable form. Many of the 20th-century collectors were personally known to the author, and he presents interesting, little-known facts about their lives and how they came to acquire some of the prize pieces in their collections. Apart from his own recollections, Dr. Pal has mined the memoirs of other scholars, collectors and dealers, as well as writings and catalogs that provide details of acquisitions and sources. He traces the journey of great works of art over the decades, as collections were sold or gifted away, as a whole or dispersed. The significant figures of this period come alive in the narrative and their singleminded pursuit of beauty is evident from some of the most significant objects from their collections illustrated here. Any reader with an interest in India's glorious art traditions will find a wealth of information in this book, presented in the author's inimitable style with insightful comment and observation. Marg is honored to published this magnum opus on the occasion of Dr. Pal completing 80 years. NF/VG (very light rubbing to back of dj). Bookseller Inventory # 160498

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