If asked to name the London museum best endowed with the finest Indian art, one would be hard-put to choose between the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The question is rhetorical, of course; their respective collections have a different focus and different strengths.
Both institutions provide the ideal playground to discover, explore and appreciate the arts of the Indian subcontinent. The morning at the British Museum is devoted mainly to the sacred and looks at the origins of the religious impulse and the growth of religious art. Expressed chiefly in sculpture, it begins with the sealings of the Indus Valley-Saraswati civilisation and continues through fertility cults and ritual objects to the rise of Buddhism and Jainism and the development of classical Hinduism. The magnificent Amaravati ‘marbles’ in the Asahi Shimbun Gallery provide the culmination.
The afternoon’s main theme is more secular. The visit to the Nehru Gallery in the V&A focuses first on the riches of the Mughal empire, with some of the world’s greatest Indian miniature paintings and jade carvings. After tea, the focus is on the interaction between India and Britain in the wake of the granting of the East India Company’s charter in 1600. Trade, empire and the ensuing impact of India on Britain, especially in its interiors and dress, are all discussed. Finally, the process is reversed by exploring, through painting and decorative arts, the impact of Britain on India, especially in so-called ‘Company painting’ and the superb objects made in the last surge of patronage in the 19th century.
There are two one-hour sessions at both museums, with a refreshment break between each session.
10.15am at the British Museum.
5.30pm at the V&A.
£205. This includes lunch, morning and afternoon refreshments, one tube journey and museum donations.
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Travel is by Underground which can be busy and there is some walking and standing during the day.
Are you fit enough to join the tour?
Maximum 14 participants.
We will return the full amount if you notify us 22 or more days before the event. We will retain 50% if cancellation is made within three weeks and 100% if within three days. Please put your cancellation in writing to email@example.com. We advise taking out insurance in case of cancellation and recommend that overseas clients are also covered for possible medical and repatriation costs.
'Both [the lecturer and tour manager] were excellent and could not have done more to make our day enjoyable.'