NEWS AND FEATURES

Karl Khandalavala collection

The newly opened Karl and Meherbai Khandalavala Gallery at the Prince of Wales Museum (renamed as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Museum) is a tribute to the late art collector. The museum is celebrating the birth centenary of late Karl Khandalavala, a renowned art historian.

The gallery, inaugurated by the Maharashtra Governor Mohammed Fazal, is celebrating the birth centenary of the renowned art historian and houses the Khandalavala collection of artifacts in the newly renovated East Wing of the Museum. At the inauguration ceremony, a publication titled: 'Centennial Bouquet: The Khandalavala Collection of Indian Art' was also released. Karl Khandalavala, as the speakers stated, would always be remembered as a fine scholar and as a fine human being. He was one among the doyens of his generation including C Sivaramamurti, Stella Kramrisch, Niharranjan Ray, and Ananda Coomaraswamy.

Also, speaking on the occasion, B G Deshmukh, Trustee and Chairman of the Planning and Finance Committee of the Museum recounted, "In 1991, Karl Khandalavala expressed a desire to set up a permanent gallery in his name. It wasn't possible due to lack of space till the East Wing of the Museum was renovated."

Karl Khandalavala was devoted to the subject of art history. He donated his entire collection to the museum of which he was a trustee for nearly five decades on permanent loan prior to his death in 1995. His is the second biggest collection donated to the museum after Sir Dorab Tata.

The selfless art collector-historian was associated with the museum till his last breath. The year 1958 saw Karl Khandalavala being elected as the Chairman of the Board of trustees of the museum and continued to be re-nominated almost every time. He also edited the journal 'Lalit Kala', as well as Lalit Kala Akademi portfolios and other publications, and was also associated with Marg publications since its inception in capacity as Chairman of its advisory committee. His wife Meherbai supported his passion wholeheartedly. This collection of 700 antiquities comprises of miniature paintings, line drawings besides stone sculptures, terracotta, bronzes from India and Nepal, and other decorative arts. Pahari paintings such as Basohli, Guler and Kangra; Rajasthani masterpieces from Deograh and Mewar along with rare Deccani paintings from the period of Ibrahim Adil Shah II are on display. The sculptures in Khandalavala collection include a 16th century bronze Hanuman and a brass Krishna A selection from this collection - around 100 varied artifacts are on view at the permanent gallery.

The gallery showcases art objects that allow one a glimpse into the psyche of the celebrated collector. Dr. Kalpana Desai, Director of the Princes Wales Museum, says, "Khandalavala collection is diverse, but miniature paintings predominate." With the inclusion of this collection, the museum now has the largest collection of legendary Paharai artist Nainsukh's paintings.

The new gallery is an outcome of sponsorship and goodwill of some of close associates of Karl Khandalavala like Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, General Editor of Marg Publications and an authority on Asian art and culture, Dr. Farrokh Wadia, Chairman of Karl Khandalavala Trust and nephew of Karl Khandalavala and Pinakin Patel, all of whom have been instrumental in setting up of this gallery. The renovation plan could materialize owing to support from M/S Premchand Roychand & Sons who assisted in the plan of creating a suitable space for the gallery. The Museum Society of Bombay raised the Karl Khandalavala Memorial fund to purchase artifacts.

The museum authorities are also in the process of starting a conservation studio, seminar room for workshops and a coin gallery in the near future.

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