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Major International Loan Exhibition Featuring Greatest Artists in History of Indian Painting Goes on View at Metropolitan Museum in October
September 28, 2011 – January 8, 2012

Wonder of the Age

Exhibition Location: Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Exhibition Hall, 2nd Floor

Indian paintings have traditionally been classified according to regional styles or dynastic periods, with an emphasis on subject matter and narrative content. Recent scholarship, however, has begun to securely link innovations in style with specific artists and their lineages. Together with a careful study of artist’s inscriptions and scribal colophons, it is now possible to construct a more precise chronology of the development of Indian painting.

Beginning September 28, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will present "Wonder of the Age": Master Painters of India, 1100-1900, a major loan exhibition devoted to the connoisseurship of Indian painting, with some 200 works selected according to identifiable hands and named artists. The exhibition dispels the notion of anonymity in Indian art. The high points of artistic innovation in the history of Indian painting will be demonstrated through works by more than 40 of the greatest Indian painters, some of whom are identified for the first time. Each artist will be represented in the exhibition by five to six seminal works.

The exhibition is made possible by MetLife Foundation.

Additional support is provided by Novartis Corporation.

It was organized by the Museum Rietberg Zurich in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Structured chronologically, the exhibition will feature the artistic achievement of individual artists in each period. Highlights include: A Sufi Sage by Farrukh Beg, after a European engraving of the personification of melancholia, Dolor, an extraordinary painting representing the last chapter of the artist’s long career (1615, Museum of Islamic Art, Doha); Peafowl attributed to Mansur, a master of observation of the natural world (ca. 1610, private collection); Jahangir receives Prince Khurram at Ajmer on his return from the Mewar campaign: page from the Windsor Padshahnama by Balchand, a master of composition (ca. 1635, Royal Collection, Royal Library, Windsor); Shiva and Parvati playing chaupad  by Pahari, a superb painting with intense saturated color, bold but sparse composition, and stylized landscape, depicting the divine couple relaxing on a tiger skin playing chaupad, a form of chess (1694-95,  Metropolitan Museum); and Emperor Muhammad Shah with falcon viewing his garden at sunset from a palanquin attributed to Chitarman II, depicting the emperor enjoying his garden at sunset (ca. 1730, Boston Museum of Fine Arts).

The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.

Major collections in India, Europe, and the United States have lent works to the exhibition, including: HM The Queen’s Collection Windsor Castle, National Museum of India and the Udaipur City Palace Museum in Rajasthan, the Aga Khan Trust Geneva, the Bodleian Library and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, and the Museum Rietberg in Zurich.

Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India, 1100 – 1900 has been produced under the direction of three eminent scholars—Dr. Eberhard Fischer, former director of the Museum Rietberg; Prof. Milo Beach, former director of the Freer & Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C.; and Prof. B. N. Goswamy, Professor Emeritus of Art History at the Panjab University, Chandigarh. Dr. Jorrit Britschgi of the Museum Rietberg is the organizing curator in collaboration with John Guy, the Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The exhibition was on view at the Museum Rietberg Zurich before traveling to New York.

A variety of education programs will accompany the exhibition, including gallery talks, films, and a Sunday at the Met program on October 2. 

This exhibition in New York is organized by John Guy, Curator in the Department of the Asian Art.  The exhibition design is by Daniel Kershaw, Exhibition Design Manager; graphics are by Sue Koch, Graphic Design Manager; and lighting is by Clint Ross Coller and Richard Lichte, Lighting Design Managers, all of the Metropolitan Museum’s Design Department.

The exhibition will be featured on the Museum’s website at www.metmuseum.org.

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September 19, 2011

Image caption: Payag (Painter), Mir 'Ali (Calligrapher), Shah Jahan riding a stallion: page from the Kevorkian Album. Mughal court at Agra, ca. 1628. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Purchase, Rogers Fund and The Kevorkian Foundation Gift, 1955

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