SOAS University of London

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

An Italian Orientalist in India: Collecting Religious Objects for the Museo Indiano in Florence

Dr Filipa Vicente (SOAS)

Date: 26 November 2008Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 26 November 2008Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

In the autumn of 1885 Angelo De Gubernatis, an Italian Indianist, gathered in the studio of a Parsi photographer of Bombay in order to take a group photograph with the Goanese doctor, historian and collector José Gerson da Cunha, and the Indian pandits Bhagvanlal Indraji and Shyamaji Krishnavarma, also specialists in Sanskrit and Hinduism like Gubernatis himself. The photograph should mark the religious Hindu ceremony where Gubernatis was given the turban and the sacred thread of the brahmans. The representation, carefully staged, was sent to the popular Italian newspaper L'Illustration Italiana and the religious objects that took part in the Hindu ceremony were later exhibited at the Indian Museum that Gubernatis created in Florence after his Indian tour (1886). One of the main aims of the Italian orientalist's journey was precisely to collect Indian objects for the Florentine Museo Indiano. Taken as an example of a transnational visual culture, the image and its participants enable us to explore notions of colonial photography, material culture and collecting within colonial contexts and the exhibition of "India" in 19th century Europe

Organiser: Dr Crispin Branfoot and Dr Elizabeth Moore

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