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Welcoming the Rijksmuseum with Indian Miniatures in the Van Gogh Museum
A wild elephant, 1740-60, Anonymous artist. Rijkmuseum, Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM.- The Rijksmuseum will show highlights from its collection of Indian miniatures in the Van Gogh Museum. The presentation is a voyage of discovery across India: the stylistic development of Indian painting from the 15th to the 19th centuries is illustrated by means of some fifty masterpieces. Around half of the miniatures come from the bequest of the Amsterdam physician and collector P. Formijne and will be on show for the first time. This is the fourth time that the Rijksmuseum has been a guest of the Van Gogh Museum while its premises are undergoing restoration. The presentation runs from 17 October 2008 through 4 January 2009 in the print room (Rietveld building) and forms part of the Amsterdam India Festival.

Many paintings were commissioned by the Muslim emperors of the Mughal empire, which at its height in the 17th century stretched from the north to central India. The Hindu kings from the northwestern states of Rajasthan and the Punjab also played an important role as artistic patrons. The miniatures offer a fascinating insight into courtly life, where activities included playing polo, attendance at elephant fights and smoking hookahs.

Artists also took their inspiration from religious texts and classical Indian music. The portrayal of melodies (ragas) is unique to the Indian painterly tradition, whereby the emotions evoked by a particular note are rendered visually. Being precious works of art, the miniatures were accessible only to the patron who had commissioned them or a select group. They were kept as loose leaves or bound in albums, so that each detail could be viewed from close up. In these miniatures the rich culture of India is revealed: from lively illustrations depicting the youth of Krishna to refined portraits of emperors and maharajahs.

Publication - 50 x India; The 50 most beautiful miniatures from the Rijksmuseum by Malini Roy (Curator of Prints, Drawings and Photographs of the Asia Pacific and Africa Collections at the British Library). This publication shows a selection of the 50 most beautiful miniatures from the Rijksmuseum's collection. As early as the 17th century these Indian miniatures were already being keenly collected in the Netherlands and served as a source of inspiration to many. This book shows that the miniatures have lost none of their appeal. Rijksmuseum / Nieuw Amsterdam Uitgevers, 144 pages, available in English and Dutch, ISBN 978 90 8689 043 9. Price € 21,95. Available in the museum shop.

Amsterdam India Festival - The Amsterdam India Festival is a multi-faceted cultural sampler, featuring dozens of events in the fields of music, dance, fashion, film, photography, theatre, the visual arts, architecture and multimedia. The Festival takes Blended Cultures as its theme, in a reference to the wide range of different cultures living alongside one another in India -- the same cultural diversity that also characterises Amsterdam. For more information see:

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