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Rare Indian Bronzes Spanning Fifteen Centuries at New Orleans Museum of Art
The exhibition and accompanying book are the first survey of most major schools of Indian bronzes for almost half a century.
NEW ORLEANS, LA.- The Elegant Image: Hindu, Buddhist and Jain Bronzes from the Indian Subcontinent in the Siddharth K. Bhansali Collection, presented by the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) from August 5 through October 23, 2011, showcases 100 bronze sculptures of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain deities, underscoring the richness of the three major religions of ancient India. The exhibition, drawn primarily from the collection of Dr. Siddharth K. Bhansali, includes examples of the earliest known metal representations of a deity, among a number of other rare and noteworthy bronzes.

The Elegant Image, curated by eminent Indian art historian Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, furthers NOMA's exploration of Indian works as part of NOMA's centennial celebration and focus on the museum's extensive and diverse areas of collection.

"Dr. Bhansali has not only contributed the majority of the works of art for this exhibition, but has also been a tireless advocate for the growth of NOMA's Indian collection," said Director Susan Taylor. "The Elegant Image must be seen first hand to truly appreciate the power of these unique bronzes."

A native of Bombay (Mumbai) India, Dr. Bhansali first began collecting Indian bronzes about 35 years ago. Few private or public collections anywhere can claim so many metal figures of this period and with such variety.

"My eureka moment came at an auction in London where I encountered an early Jain bronze," said Dr. Bhansali. "Being a Jain myself, it hit me in the pit of my stomach. I remember calling my mother in Mumbai, half nervous and half excited, certain she would disapprove. Upon receiving her unexpected approval, I was unstoppable, spending the next three decades collecting these important Jain bronzes."

Highlights include:

• Dr. Bhansali's collection represents the most important Jain bronzes in the U.S. (arguably the world)

• Exhibition and accompanying book are the first survey of most major schools of Indian bronzes for almost half a century

• Extraordinary group of Gupta bronzes including 3rd and 4th century examples of Jain deities

• Earliest metal icon of Ganesha to date from Tamil Nadu (6th century)

• Earliest examples of goddess Ambika from Eastern India

• Diverse bronzes from Kerala represent largest collection outside of region

• Exhibition also features a work from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's South and Southeast Art Asian collection

"While studying the objects to make my initial selection, I was impressed by both the stylistic diversity of the collection and the idiosyncratic taste of the collector, Dr. Bhansali," Pal said.

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