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An Exotic Encounter
An Exhibition of Non-Indian Antiquities from Sir Ratan Tata Collection
(Sir Ratan Tata Centenary Commemoration)
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS)
Friday | 7th September 2018 | 6 pm
Special Exhibition Gallery, First Floor Extension Building
The Exhibition Will Remain Open To The Public Until 7th October 2018
Sir Ratan Tata (1871-1918) was the illustrious son of India’s pioneering industrialist Jamsetji N. Tata. Jamsetji N. Tata’s father Nusserwanji Tata (1822–86) was originally a member of the Parsi (Zoroastrian) community of Navsari (a small town in Gujarat) and his ancestors had been priests of the Zoroastrian religion. It was sometime in the early decades of the 19th century that Nusserwanji moved to then Bombay along with his family, where he started his first trading venture.
Jamsetji N. Tata joined his father’s firm in Bombay at the age of 13. Dorab Tata, Jamsetji’s first son, was born in 1859, followed by Ratan in 1871. During this period, despite several political challenges, the Tata Family did not deter from their goal of economic independence and creation of wealth for the country. Theirs’ can be rightfully considered as a first step towards India’s economic independence. When Jamsetji died in 1904, Dorab and his younger brother Ratan took over the reins of the business and brought about major expansion and diversification. Thereafter, they devoted their entire life to transforming their father’s vision into reality.
Sir Ratan Tata was committed to art, archaeology, science, architecture, education, health and socio-political issues. Although he wasn’t really interested in business, his innate business skill and acumen was evident in his collection of rare art objects sourced from different places. He was both a philanthropist and a great patriot.
2018 marks a hundred years of Sir Ratan Tata’s demise and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya will observe the Centenary by organizing several events including this exhibition, and the 1st Centenary Commemorative Lecture in February 2019 which will be delivered by Neil MacGregor, former Director, British Museum.
It was with an immense sense of civic pride and nationalist fervour that Sir Ratan Tata bequeathed his extensive art collection to the then Prince of Wales Museum of Western India, now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai. This unmatched instance of munificence to a public museum in India had the selfless support of his spouse, Lady Navajbai. The Tata bequest formed the core of the Museum’s collection.
Sir Ratan Tata’s keen interest in travel took him to Japan, China and many countries of South East Asia where he acquired large numbers of porcelain and decorative objects. He also collected European paintings, Art Deco objects, manuscripts, textiles, arms and armours. He was often guided by expert opinion while acquiring non-Indian antiquities.
The European Painting galleries in the CSMVS Museum were originally formed with the gifts of the Tata family. Today, they are a rich resource for students of fine art in the city and for visitors. No other museum in the country can boast of a similar gallery dedicated to the history of European painting of the period. The Chinese and Japanese art from the Tata Collections are also significant. The Indian paintings include outstanding works of the Deccani, Mughal, Rajasthani, and Pahari traditions. The Collection of Indian textiles contains outstanding pieces of late 19th and early 20th century brocades, embroideries, printed materials, and Kashmir shawls.
This exhibition, titled ‘An Exotic Encounter: Non-Indian Antiquities from Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection’ will showcase 90 select non- Indian art objects for the first time.
Exquisite examples of European oil paintings, Chinese and Japanese Ceramics and sculptures, Bronzes from South Asia and intricate decorative objects will enrich the visitors. The Exhibition will remain open for visitors till 7th October 2018.
The Tata family will always be remembered in the museum movement in early 20th-century India for their outstanding contribution for collecting classical Indian art and the art of other countries. With their contributions, CSMVS can truly offer a cosmopolitan experience to its visitors today. In recognition of the generosity of the Tata brothers in building the Museum collection, the management named the two art galleries on the second floor of CSMVS after Sir Dorab Tata and Sir Ratan Tata.