A Short History Of Indian Art

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Episodes

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01The King Of Varanasi's Hunting Expedition20150914

01The King Of Varanasi's Hunting Expedition20150914
01The King Of Varanasi's Hunting Expedition20150914

William Dalrymple tells a remarkable history of India through five classic images of Indian art and sculpture. He describes their place within the major artistic movements of India and their role in the unfolding history of one of the world's most diverse cultures.

He begins with a masterpiece of Buddhist art - the cave paintings of Ajanta, now in Maharashtra State and dating from before the 1st Century BC. He explains the history of these dramatic rock-cut caves and the superbly preserved mural art on the walls inside that tell stories from the lives of the Buddha. 'The Ajanta cave paintings are now recognised as the finest picture gallery to survive anywhere from any ancient civilization'. He is particularly taken by paintings showing the King of Varanasi; bow in hand, out on a hunting expedition.

A Short History of Indian Art is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.

02Arjuna's Penance20150915

Two giant boulders of pink granite near the Bay of Bengal in modern Tamil Nadu are the focus of Dalrymple's second essay in the series 'A Short History of Indian Art'.

It was here, in the 7th century, that master carvers created a giant open-air relief that tells many stories, including the well-known tale of how the sacred River Ganges fell to earth as well as depicting the penance of Arjuna, one of the heroes of Indian mythology. This huge and intricate carving remains one of the most powerful pieces of open-air art anywhere in the world.

Dalrymple describes the importance of South India at this time and the emergence of the Pallava dynasty. He introduces us to the fascinating story surrounding the patron of South Indian sculpture, the great monarch Mahendra. These kings of Tamil Nadu generated incredible wealth, thanks to their control over the spice and silk trade, and powered a period of profound artistic production and temple building. From their great port of Mahabalipuram (now a sleepy tourist resort) the Pallava kings created a vibrant new approach to art that was widely exported.

William tells the remarkable story of Arjuna's Penance / The Descent of the Ganges. He describes its place within the major artistic movements of India and its role in the unfolding history of one of the world's most diverse cultures.

'A Short History of Indian Art' is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.

03Ibrahim Adil Shah with Castanets20150916

03Ibrahim Adil Shah with Castanets20150916

The writer and historian William Dalrymple continues his history of India through five great works of art and sculpture.

The third essay focuses on a miniature full-length portrait from the 17thcCentury. It's of the ruling Sultan of the central Indian kingdom of Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah II, dressed in all his finery. It is an image of a powerful ruler before he came up against the might of the Mughals.

Dalrymple tells the story of this scholar ruler who was also a musician, poet and singer, who commissioned many of the greatest artists of the day who arrived at his court from as far afield as Central Asia and Europe. He was a free thinker who saw himself as both a devout Muslim and a Hindu devotee.

Dalrymple offers a profile of this important yet little-known Sultan and describes the remarkable explosion of artistic activity he oversaw

'A Short History of Indian Art' is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.

03Ibrahim Adil Shah with Castanets20150916

The writer and historian William Dalrymple continues his history of India through five great works of art and sculpture.

The third essay focuses on a miniature full-length portrait from the 17thcCentury. It's of the ruling Sultan of the central Indian kingdom of Bijapur, Ibrahim Adil Shah II, dressed in all his finery. It is an image of a powerful ruler before he came up against the might of the Mughals.

Dalrymple tells the story of this scholar ruler who was also a musician, poet and singer, who commissioned many of the greatest artists of the day who arrived at his court from as far afield as Central Asia and Europe. He was a free thinker who saw himself as both a devout Muslim and a Hindu devotee.

Dalrymple offers a profile of this important yet little-known Sultan and describes the remarkable explosion of artistic activity he oversaw

'A Short History of Indian Art' is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.

04A Leisurely Ride20150917

04A Leisurely Ride20150917

The writer and historian William Dalrymple continues his history of India through five great works of art and sculpture.

A painting by the renowned Pahari miniature painter Nainsukh inspires Dalrymple's fourth essay. It's from the 18th century. The image is of one of Nainsukh's patrons, Mian Mukund Dev of Jasrota, out riding on horseback with his retinue, all clad in bright clothes, romance in the air. One is playing a drum, another is singing. This is a joyful scene, brimming with the colours of the Punjab hills of northern India.

Dalrymple tells the story of this remarkable painter, working at a time when the Punjab hill-states of the Himalayan foothills were going through a period of astonishing creativity. He describes the life of Nainsukh and the status of the artist of this period. He also chronicles his astonishing and ultimately tragic relationship with the local ruler.

'A Short History of Indian Art' is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.

04A Leisurely Ride20150917

The writer and historian William Dalrymple continues his history of India through five great works of art and sculpture.

A painting by the renowned Pahari miniature painter Nainsukh inspires Dalrymple's fourth essay. It's from the 18th century. The image is of one of Nainsukh's patrons, Mian Mukund Dev of Jasrota, out riding on horseback with his retinue, all clad in bright clothes, romance in the air. One is playing a drum, another is singing. This is a joyful scene, brimming with the colours of the Punjab hills of northern India.

Dalrymple tells the story of this remarkable painter, working at a time when the Punjab hill-states of the Himalayan foothills were going through a period of astonishing creativity. He describes the life of Nainsukh and the status of the artist of this period. He also chronicles his astonishing and ultimately tragic relationship with the local ruler.

'A Short History of Indian Art' is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.

05The Delhi Book20150918

The writer and historian William Dalrymple concludes his short history of India through five great works of art and sculpture.

For this last episode Dalrymple has chosen the Delhi Book, an album containing over 100 paintings of the great Indian city in the 19th century. Many of these topographical works are by the famous artist Mazhar Ali Khan. He worked in Delhi in the late Mughal era, in what became known as the 'Company Style' of painting under Western influence. Sir Thomas Metcalfe, who was working in India as the Governor-General's Agent, commissioned the Delhi Book and had it sent back to England in 1844 as a gift to his daughters.

Dalrymple tells the story of this book of paintings and the often-bizarre British characters who lived and worked in Delhi. He describes the importance of the Delhi Book in recording how this great city looked in the 19th century. He looks at the life of Mazhar Ali Khan and describes how Mughal and British artistic impulses fused during this brief period to create a remarkable final phase to the history of Indian miniature painting.

'A Short History of Indian Art' is a Whistledown Production for BBC Radio 3. The producer is Anthony Denselow.