SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

A House of Wonder: Silverware at the Delhi Exhibition of 1903

Yuthika Sharma (Columbia University)

Date: 6 February 2008Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 6 February 2008Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

A House of Wonder: Silver at the Delhi Exhibition of 1903

On December 30, 1902 an exhibition of Indian art wares opened in Delhi in conjunction with a grand coronation durbar of Albert Edward VII, Prince of Wales. The Exhibition showcased superlative craftsmanship and skill in metal works and other industrial arts of India, in order to facilitate the transition of exhibits into permanent collections in local and regional museums. Manufactures and traders were asked to provide imposing displays of selected silver objects, which were to be judged for their “artistic merit” and commercial value by a handpicked team of specialists. The Delhi Exhibition provides an ideal backdrop to study the processes of collection, cataloging, and display as they were applied to the evaluation of Indian silverware. We will explore how the exhibition forged a link between modes of production of silver objects and their consumption in the domestic market, while also setting the standards for their artistic appreciation. The discussion will highlight the complex narratives of ‘Indian’ design for silver wares extolled within the specialist circuit of the exhibition.

Organiser: Dr Crispin Branfoot and Dr Elizabeth Moore