Monday, September 12, 2011

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: Miniature masterpieces in exhibition

A new exhibition opening at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Indian and Persian Miniature Paintings, features beautifully painted book illustrations from 16th-19th century Persia and 17th-19th century India. The illustrations are from the collections of the AGGV and the Maltwood Collection of the University of Victoria. The exhibition opens Sept. 16, 2011 and runs through Nov. 20, 2011.

AGGV Asian Art curator Barry Till says that Indian and Persian miniature paintings are often grouped together. "The earliest book illuminations from Persia had a direct influence on Indian Mughal and Rajput miniatures of the 17th and 18th centuries," said Till. Although diminutive in size, miniatures include a world of detail and observation. The fine painting technique often utilizes brushes with very few hairs, using gouache (a non-transparent watercolor paint). Till explained that the rich, opaque colors were achieved by burnishing each individual layer of paint. Gold was added to the "important" miniatures, which lent a heightened degree of luxury.

Most miniature paintings were a collaborative effort: one artist would sketch the composition with another painted it. Other artists specialized in such aspects as figures, animals, landscape and architecture. Many of the exhibition's miniatures are from illustrated albums commissioned by Indian Mughal rulers, including the 17th century leaders Shah Jahan. He is best known for building the Taj Mahal in memory of Mumtaz Mahal, his third wife and mother of his 14 children.
Indian and Persian Miniature Paintings Tour - Oct. 5 - 2 PM. With Dr. Anthony Welch, Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture, Iranian Painting and Architecture of Musliam India. Dr Welch will explore the origins and artistic intentions of these miniature artistic expressions.
Prince Chananmalji Riding a Camel, 19th cent. | Gouache on paper | Gift of Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Minnis 

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