Epic Tales from India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art

Exhibition Website

Nov 19 2016 - Feb 5 2017

Indian paintings are usually admired as individual works of art, framed and hung on museum walls, but viewing them this way reveals only part of their story. Most of these paintings come from books and were intended to accompany a text. Drawing from the San Diego Museum of Art’s renowned Edwin Binney 3rd Collection, this exhibition will introduce viewers to the world of South Asian paintings from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century through the classics of literature that they illustrate.

The 90 paintings in the exhibition will represent the most significant gathering of South Asian art ever shown at Princeton and will be arranged by book or type of book, thus placing the paintings in something approaching their original narrative context. Visitors will learn about the varied traditions of manuscript-making in the region, and be introduced to the most famous works of South Asian literature—from sacred texts in Sanskrit to the range of secular stories, poems and histories that became popular in later centuries.

Also visit Miniature Paintings from South Asia, on view in the Asian galleries

Epic Tales from India: Paintings from the San Diego Museum of Art has been organized by the San Diego Museum of Art.

Whether or not you go, the companion publication, Epic Tales from Ancient India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art, explores the topic of narrativity in Indian art. A beautiful and deeply researched book, it considers illustrations to the Bhagavata Purana, the Ramayana, the Ragamala, and a range of texts in the Persian language, notably the Shahnama. Featuring stunning reproductions of paintings made between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries from the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection at The San Diego Museum of Art, the publication includes thorough and fascinating explanations of the narrative of each text, including how that narrative is visually conveyed. Essays examine why these particular stories are so enduring, why patrons may have chosen to have a copy of a particular text made for their own collections, and how artists responded to the challenge of creating new versions of venerable classics.

Epic Tales from Ancient India: Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art

  • Books / Manuscripts
  • Asian
  • Southeast Asia

Exhibition Venues & Dates