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Case study

Conserving Indian Manuscripts in the Royal Collection

Painstaking conservation work was needed to allow them to feature in the exhibition

The Royal Library at Windsor Castle houses an exquisite collection of South Asian paintings and manuscripts.  These artworks are full of beautiful, intricate detail but become inherently fragile as they age.  This short film shows the conservation that enabled them to be safely handled and exhibited in Splendours of the Subcontinent: four centuries of South Asian paintings and manuscripts at the Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace. 

Initial examination in the paper conservation studio revealed hidden underdrawings and insights into the creative process, as well as exploring the artists' original materials and their stability.  This guided subsequent treatments, including painstaking re-securing of lifting paint flakes under the microscope and different types of repair to the delicate papers.

Watch the film to learn more:


Related exhibition
Splendours of the Subcontinent: Four centuries of South Asian Paintings and Manuscripts

The long relationship between the Crown and South Asia

Learn more about the works featured in this case study:

RCIN 1005047

Recto:Similar to La'l's painting on 1005039, this is one of several apparently related works attributed to the artist which depict a prince reading. In this example, the young prince is reciting poetry to two companions while attendants and female musicians regale them with wine and music. The royal party are seated in a verdant garden upon a velvet...

RCIN 1005043

Recto:Right:Verses from chapter four of Sa'di's Bustān on pale sand coloured paper عین البوستان یکی قطره باران ز ابری چکید /خجل شد چو پهنای دریا بدید که جایی که دریاست من کیستم / گر او هست حقا که من نیستم چو خود را به چشم حقارت بدید / صدف در کنارش به جان پرورید بلندی از آن یافت کو پست شد / در نیستی کوفت تا هست شد (in small) سپهرش به جایی رسانید...

Mir 'Ali Shir Nava'i (d. 1501)
Khamsa (Quintet) of Nava'i. 1492
    RCIN 1005032

    Later Indian binding of black morocco, with gilt stamped medallions and borders and a flap. Mir 'Ali Shir Nava'i (d. 1501) was the greatest author to write in Chaghatay, the classical eastern Turkic language which was the forerunner of modern Uzbeq. From boyhood, he was a friend of Sultan Husayn Bayqara (1468-1506), the ruler of Herat. It was in that...

    RCIN 1005114

    Composed in the twelfth century, the poem Gīta Govinda tells the story of Krishna, an incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu, and his love for Radha, a gopī or 'cow herdess'. The illustrations in this manuscript were probably painted c.1790 by a group of artists in the princely state of Alwar, between Delhi and Jaipur. Its twenty-four folios start from...