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The exhibition

The Indian Subcontinent is an area encompassing modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. It is home to some of the richest manuscript and painting traditions in the world. The works of art that you will see in this exhibition reflect its diverse cultures and compelling histories. They are typically small in scale and written or painted by hand. Unlike in Europe, the manuscript craft endured well into the nineteenth century in India. Later Indian printed books and photographs also included elements of earlier manuscript and painting traditions. Many of the finest examples in the Royal Collection were diplomatic gifts presented by Indian rulers to British sovereigns. These manuscripts and paintings are part of a shared history between Britain and the Indian Subcontinent which is explored throughout the exhibition.

This is indeed India! the land of dreams and romance… the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, greatgrandmother of tradition… the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse, would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the globe combined


Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
Early Encounters

The art of the Great Mughals

Divine Encounters

Hindu paintings from northern India

Political encounters

Art and the East India Company

Victorian Encounters

Gifts for the Queen Empress

Encountering the Raj

Tradition and modernity