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Indian Art & Connoisseurship

Item Code: NAO569
Publisher: Indira Gandhi National Centre For The Arts
Author: Douglas Barrett
Language: English
Edition: 1995
Pages: 360 (15 Color & Throughout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.0 inch x 8.5 inch
Weight 1.50 kg
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Book Description
Preface and acknowledgements

This collection of papers grew out of a desire among a number of Douglas Barrett's colleagues and friends to honour his contribution to the study and appreciation of Asian arts, particularly those of the Indian sub-continent. It was to the understanding of Indian sculpture and painting that Douglas devoted a large part of his professional energies. As the late Basil Gray describes so eloquently in his chapter, a lasting legacy of Douglas's curatorship at the British Museum is to be seen in the galleries which display objects acquired under his discriminating eye. The combination of scholarship and connoisseurship evident in Douglas's acquisitions for the Museum, and in his pioneering writings, represents a permanent legacy to Indian art appreciation.

In the planning of this volume I was greatly assisted by Robert Skelton, retired Keeper of Indian art at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Ralph Pinder-Wilson, a former colleague of Douglas Barrett in the Department of Oriental Antiquities at the British Museum. Mary Barrett aided and abetted in many ways. We are very grateful that so many of Douglas's colleagues responded so enthusiastically to this project and contributed to its realisation.

Sadly, Douglas Barrett passed away on the 26th September 1992, whilst this book was in press. This publication has been partially funded, indeed made possible, by generous contributions from the following friends of Douglas Barrett: Mr and Mrs James Alsdorf, Bluett & Sons Ltd, Samuel Eilenberg, Eskenazi Ltd, Anthony Gardner, Leonidas N. Goulandris, Philip Goldman, John Hewett, Neil Kreitman, Reg Longden, Adrian Maynard, David and Paula Newman, John Sparks Ltd, Spink & Son Ltd, Stuart Cary Welch, William Wolff.



The Burlington Exhibition of Indian Art held in 1948, was a deeply moving experience. As one stood before the great sculptures, one realised that here was an Indian Heritage which was shared by India and the United Kingdom.

Each subsequent visit to the United Kingdom and, especially, London, had to include a homage to the two shrines of Indian Art, namely, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The priests, assiduously guarding and protecting the shrines (Museums), were Douglas Barrett at the British Museum and John Irwin at the Victoria and Albert. Without their benign grace Krpa, their discriminating eye and cooperation, it was impossible to enter the inner sanctum (vaults and storage collections). Some amongst us, including me, were fortunate to receive the attention and friendship of the keepers of this heritage. These were moments of discovery, rediscovery and an inspiration for further work.

Dougles Barrett was, undoubtedly, a priest of this heritage, a keeper, but he was also an explorer and a traveller. Through his first catalogue of the Amaravati collections, he established a norm in cataloguing. C. Sivaramamurti's catalogue of the Madras collection, and Douglas Barrett's of the British museum's collection, were two indispensable tools for the study of Amaravati.

As Basil Gray had said in his essay, the range of Douglas' work is vast. He was drawn to many subjects but particularly, Gandharan art, Chola bronzes, sculptures from Kashmir, ancient ivories and Deccani paintings.

Although I had known Douglas Barrett earlier, it was during the preparations for the Festival of the India Exhibition at the Hayward Gallary that I had occasion to know him better, to be guided by him through each section of the monumental storage collections of the British Museum. It was then that I saw the Steward collections of Pala and Orissan sculpture which found such a proud place in the Hayward gallery show and now adorn the new Indian galleries at the British Museum.

I was very happy to learn that a volume to celebrate his contribution was ready for publication. Despite the regret of having missed a personal opportunity to contribute to the Volume, I happily responded to the suggestion that the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts may co-sponsor the publication.

The 25 essays included in this Volume, divided neatly into North and South Indian Sculpture, Paintings, Islamic Art, match the span of Douglas Barrett's scholarship and concern. Many of the essays revolve around Douglas Barrett's scholarship or the issues that he had raised. They continue the critical discussion either in the light of new evidence or new attitudes. The contributors are all distinguished art historians, each a specialist in a particular field. Singly and together, the essays cover a wide range of subjects and, of course, give a glimpse of the principal trends and concerns of the sub-discipline of Indian art history.

A group of essays deal with the perennial problems of dating and the establishment of a chronology. The basic requisite of art studies is chronology built on a system of dating, whether of a single sculpture, panels or even fragments, leading one to an assessment of the inner dynamics of Indian art within overall cultural development in a specified time-frame. However, this field is yet to be fully explored.

In the meantime, questions of location, methods of dating, inscription, continue to provide important information. R. agaswamy's paper on dating South Indian Bronzes takes up some of the issues of criterion in great detail. In this respect, the article is evidence of movement beyond Douglas Barrett's method.

The essays on new or unpublished material are always welcome. The volume has many essays in this category by veterans such as J.e. Harle, M. Taddie, Karl Khandalavala, and Herbert Hartel. Iconography is still centre stage in Indian art history. However, there is a welcome shift from pure identification to analysis of some striking features of Indian art. The two essay of T.S. Maxwell and Vidya Dehejia point at this new trend. While Maxwell has been pursuing variations of a single iconographical form of the Visvarupa, Vidya Dehejia identifies the phenomenon of interface or even interpenetration of one iconographical form with others.

Identification and questions of authenticity are matters of continuing interest. Pratapaditya Pal raises one set of issues in the context of Kashmir's sculpture and Joanna Williams, in the context of an Orissan painting in the Asutosh Museum raises another set of issues. In the latter case, Douglas Barrett had participated in the controversial debate on this painting as far back as 1963.

The relationship of text and image of the Silpa Sastras, iconographical forms and the relationship of different streams such as that of Buddhism and Saivism, continues to be subjects of concern. Although Douglas Barrett did not go into the question of text and image, M. Prematilleka's paper is written with great sensitivity and analytical skill. The reference to the Silpa text, called Sariputra, throws a flood of light on the several processes and symbiosis which was taking place in the South Asian continent. The need for recategorisation both in terms of religion as also areas, is obvious from the reading of the essay. Connoisseurship is another aspect of the volume which would be of great interest to readers and befitting tribute to Douglas Barrett. The articles of Andrew Topsfield on the Royal Paintings Inventory of Udaipur, the paintings of the thikana of Badnore and the collections of the Jaipur suratkhana are as informative as tantalising.

The question of style and stylistic affinity and re-interpretation is an old and ongoing debate. In this sphere, both Robert Skelton and J.P. Losty have made substantial contributions. Here, Skelton attempts to establish the relationship between Mughal and the Central Asian paintings in the seventeenth Century and Losty convincingly traces the Iranian influence on Golconda paintings. However, there still remains the question of a distinctive stylistic identify of each genre and style despite influences.

Altogether, these essays are a rich tribute to the many-sided personality of Douglas Barrett. The Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts is happy to be associated with this publication.




Foreword 6
List of Lcontributors 8
Bibliography of Douglas Barrett's Published Writings 16
Douglas Barrett at the Brirtish Museum 20
North Indian Sculpture  
An inscribed sculpture from Mathura 32
Two Moulded terracotta vessels 44
A possible Hindu-Shahi lintel from swat umberto scerrato and Maurizio taddei 52
The Visvarupa Sculpture in the Trilokanatha Temple at Mandi 62
Visnu in the archaic cosmogony 74
Some Kashmri-style bronzes and problems of authenticity 86
South Indian sculpture  
On dating south Indian bronzes 100
Four unpublished south indian bronzes 130
Iconographic transference between krisna and three saiva saints 140
Mahavyana Buddhism in Sri Lanka: The archaeological evidence 150
A dated Buddha of the Pagan period 162
Indian Painting  
Vasudhara in late medieval Jaina Manuscripts 178
The royal Paintings inventory at Udaypur 188
Surakhana 1750-1768 200
Painting at the thikana of Badnore 212
An Illustrated Padmavat in the Bharat 230
The Embassy - An Orissan Painting in the Asutosh Museum 240
Islamic Art  
Stone sculpture of Gaur 250
Relations between mughal and Central Asian painting in the seventeenth century 276
the development of the Golconda Style 297
The two world of Payag- further evidence on a Mughal Artist 320
Simon Digby 342


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