The birth of Indian painting (lecture)
A Public lecture at the NGMA, Bangalore, organised in collaboration with MAP
5 November, 2014
MAP, in collaboration with the Tasveer Foundation, was delighted to organise a public lecture by William Dalrymple, on the subject of the early cave paintings at Ajanta.
The Ajanta caves were first discovered in the early summer of 1819 by a British hunting party, post which groups of Orientalists, archaeologists and Indologists made their way to the remote jungles of Aurangabad in the Western Ghats to look at these thirty one caves, that were fast gaining the reputation of being one of the great wonders of the ancient world. Today, despite being one of India’s most popular tourist spots – the monuments attract more than five thousand people people a day – the older murals at Ajanta are yet to be properly photographed.
Early scholars discovered that the murals at Ajanta had been made in two distinct phases; most of the work from the second phase of construction, at the height of the Gupta dynasty, as for instance seen in what were later numbered caves one and two, were relatively well preserved and achieved immediate recognition, praise and renown. The earlier picture cycles, found for example in caves nine and ten, were however smoke -blackened, fragmented and largely ignored by almost everybody but the vandals.
Dalrymple’s lecture will focus on the history of these murals and their representative value as the ‘origin of Indian painting’.
William Dalrymple is a British historian, writer, curator as well as prominent broadcaster and critic. His books have won numerous awards including the Duff Cooper and the Wolfson Prize, and he has been 4 times longlisted and once shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. Aside from being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society,he is also one of the co-founders and co-directors of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival.