India's Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow

Art of the Americas Building, Level 2
December 12, 2010–February 27, 2011
Image

Lucknow was an extraordinarily elegant and sophisticated Indo-Islamic kingdom that flourished in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is the first exhibition devoted to the opulent art and culture of the city, which boasted the wealthiest court and most ostentatious cityscape in northern India.

The refined artistic production of the city's multiethnic residents and artists is represented by Indian courtly paintings, European oil paintings, drawings, prints, a range of decorative art objects and textiles, nineteenth-century photography, and twentieth-century Indian films. The exhibition provides a framework for understanding the history of the region and the nature of India's colonial history and memory.

The exhibition is curated by Stephen Markel and Tushara Bindu Gude, South and Southeast Asian Art at LACMA. India's Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow is organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It is supported in part by grants from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support was provided by the Southern Asian Art Council.

Image: Mir Kalan Khan, Lovers in a Landscape (Detail), India, Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, c. 1760–70, Opaque watercolor on paper, Page 16 x 11 inches; image 8 1/4 x 6 inches, The David Collection, Copenhagen, 50/1981.

Nasir al-Din Haidar
Muhammad Azam
c. 1830
Colonel Polier Watching a Nautch after Johann Zoffany
c. 1786–88
Nawab Shuja al-Daula with His Sons, after Tilly Kettle
Nevasi Lal
1774
The Relief of Lucknow, 1857
Thomas Jones Barker
1859

Lucknow Through the Lens of Bollywood

November, 2010

In this excerpt from a public program at LACMA, Robin Sukhadia, disciple of Lucknow Gharana (school) Tabla Master Swapan Chaudhuri, talks about the musical heritage of Lucknow and the romanticized portrayal of the city's courtesans. The talk took place on October 9, 2010. In the talk, Robin refers to Bollywood film clips. An example can be seen here.

Some Curious Lists from Lucknow

Museum exhibitions involve a considerable (and seemingly endless) number of lists relating to artworks, loans, budgets, contracts, illustrations, gallery texts, condition reports, shipments, couriers, and installation specifications, to name just a few. I thought it would be fun to share a few of the more interesting lists (abbreviated here) that I encountered during my work on India’s Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow....

Fatal Attraction

If ever a story should start with “Once upon time,” India’s Fabled City is surely the one. It is hard to imagine a more perfect setting than Lucknow, this northern city nestled on the banks of the river Gomti where East met West which glowed for a moment with a luxurious promise of a shared, hybrid beauty...

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