Reproductions of Lord Edwin Weeks lush oil paintings of India travel to the country
In 1892,celebrated American orientalist and painter,Lord Edwin Week,came to India on horse back and ship. More than a century later,archival giclee digital inkjet prints of his paintings have found their way on the walls of the American Center. This is the first exhibition of his works in India.
While the originals are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and various collections in the US and Europe,Gautam Srivastav,founder of The Hubris Foundation,has made a viewing of the works possible by collecting prints. One would have loved to show the original works,but since they are worth over eight to 10 crores,and part of the permanent collection at the Museum,it would have taken a lifetime of negotiations to get them down to India. It is ironic that a man who painted India and Persia so extensively has never been shown in the country, says Srivastav.
A slightly built man,Week was known for his adventurous spirit. He travelled to Persia on horse-back,till the Kotal Mountains,reaching a peak that was 2250 meters high,and boarded a steamer called the Occidental to reach Indian shores.
Lord Weeks work is unique. His vision was not a colonial one,like the British painters before him. He criticised the monarchy and was never welcomed by the British. His paintings were of barbers,nautch girls and the common man. He never extolled British rule,instead glorified Indian monuments like the Jama Masjid and the Amir Fort, says Srivastav,who will continue his research on the American painter and has a book planned on him. The publication will comprise writing by art critics published in the New York Times in 1800s,Harpers 1980s publications and writing from Sothebys and Christies auction catalogues.
The exhibition is on at the American Center till February 4