William Dalrymple

The birth of Indian painting (lecture)

A Public lecture at the NGMA, Bangalore, organised in collaboration with MAP

5 November, 2014
NGMA, Bangalore

William Dalrymple presents an illustrated talk on the subject of the early cave paintings at Ajanta, focusing on their history and their representative value as the ‘origin of Indian painting’.

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.

Dalrymple’s talk will focus on these earlier picture cycles, found for example in caves nine and ten, that were smoke -blackened, fragmented and largely ignored by almost everybody but the vandals until 1999, when Rajdeo Singh, the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) chief of conservation and head of science at Aurangabad, began to work on restoring them. Now painstakingly restored and unveiled, Dalrymple will elucidate how they add dimensions to our understanding of early 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.