Splendours of the Subcontinent – Blog 1

We’re very pleased to introduce a series of blog posts that are linked to Splendours of the Subcontinent, a Royal Collection Trust touring exhibition coming to Cartwright Hall in March 2017. There’s so much to tell you, we’ve had to create a separate posting schedule for these blogs- so keep an eye out for them!

The first entry has been written by our Curator of International and Decorative Arts, Nilesh Mistry introducing this exciting project. He writes:

Plans are afoot for some of the finest Indian treasures from the Royal Collection to go on display in a new exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery in March 2017. Bradford Museums and Galleries have been in discussion with Royal Collection Trust over the past two years with the partnership announced at the May 2016 Launch event in Bradford City Hall by the new Lord Mayor Councillor Geoff Reid along with the Director of Royal Collection Trust Jonathan Marsden.

The exhibition Splendours of the Subcontinent: A Prince’s Tour of India 1875–76 will provide a unique showcase of exquisite objects gifted to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) by the Indian royal courts he visited during his seventeen week tour of the Indian subcontinent, which includes modern day Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. The treasure trove of exhibits include a jewel encrusted ceremonial swords and armaments, jewellery, fine enamel work, gold platters, a crown and much more.

This will be a unique opportunity to view a fine selection from this extraordinary collection, which have not been collectively displayed since 1883. The launch of the exhibition tour will be in Bradford’s Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, the only north of England showcase before the exhibition travels to the New Walk Gallery in Leicester and then to both of The Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

A gold, enamelled and diamond set inkstand in the form of a State barge with oars, steering oar and anchor. The prow represents a peacock with a spread tail and a crocodile head at the stern. Beneath the "chattri" desk pavillion are two inkwells with scissors and a penknife.
Enamelled Gold Inkstand. Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

The signature object of the show is a stunning enamelled gold inkstand in the shape of a boat gifted by Maharaja Ishwari Prasad Narayan Singh of Benares. It aptly signifies the Prince’s journey and the strong sense of loyalty, friendship and goodwill that was exchanged during his various engagements. This and the other wonderfully crafted gifts represent the outstanding skills and centres of production still in existence on the Indian subcontinent.

 

A gold, enamelled and diamond set inkstand in the form of a State barge with oars, steering oar and anchor. The prow represents a peacock with a spread tail and a crocodile head at the stern. Beneath the "chattri" desk pavillion are two inkwells with scissors and a penknife
Interior of the Inkstand Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2016

Bradford Museums and Galleries will host the exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery from 11 March to 18 June 2017.

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