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Stories in miniatures

The collection of Indian Painting in the Kupferstich-Kabinett

3 March to 5 June 2017
An exhibition of the Europe/World research programme spanning several collections as part of the project Dresden • Europe • World, Kupferstich-Kabinett at the Residenzschloss

The exhibition, which was developed in cooperation with the CSMVS in Mumbai, features two virtually unknown collections of Indian miniatures from the holdings of the Kupferstich-Kabinett.

The core of both collections consists of miniatures from the end of the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century, which mostly originated on the high plateau of the Indian subcontinent, the Deccan. The first part mainly shows portraits of famous Indian rulers, which were collected in albums (muraqqa), but also darbar scenes (i.e. audiences with the emperor), festive celebrations, lion hunts, scenes from the women’s quarters in the royal residence (zenana), depictions of darshan (“a glimpse”) of spiritual masters and even humorous portraits of ascetics. The compositions of those scenes follow a complex logic in which observation, content and self-referential reflection on the medium become interlaced.

Thus, the exhibition offers an exciting viewing experience and gives the viewer the chance to connect the objects found in the displayed miniatures with arts and crafts objects on loan from renowned collections. The specific techniques of paper manufacturing, writing, drawing and tracing, together with results of the recent restoration, are also addressed.

The two groups of miniatures arrived in Dresden at two different times. The first came to Dresden during the reign of August the Strong (1677-1733), Regent of Saxony. The second entered the collection during the 19th century, as a bequest from August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845), the founder of the first university chair in Indology.

Against the backdrop of this collection history, the beholder not only gains insight into the courtly world of motives and the workshop tradition on the Indian peninsula in the 17th and 18th century, but also the changing reception of those works of art in Germany at two distinct moments in time.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue published by the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Monica Juneja and Petra Kuhlmann-Hodick. It comprises eleven essays, a historic introduction, and a scientific information on the works displayed.