Few of the world's important art museums were created entirely by the devotion, energy,
artistic wisdom, and generosity of one man and his wife. Such is the case, however, of The
Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad, an irrevocable public trust
established by the Mittals in 1976. It is the astounding creation of two artists; and is in
itself a major work of art. It is a vital "happening"; an infinitely complex "installation
sculpture," and a visual tactile feast.
In March 2007, it is still a museum without a building. But it is also a
mysteriously perfect, greatly effective aesthetic microcosm of Indian art from ancient times
through 2000 AD. Those fortunate enough to experience it through the minds and voices of its
awe-inspiring but always modest founders will delight in being shown perceptively chosen
samplings of its myriad works of art, tailored to their innermost needs by my revered
friends, Jagdish and Kamla. Far from being mere collectors, curators, conservators, or
docents although they are expert at each of these roles they are, in effect,
art-physicians, shamans, gurus, or white witches, sensitively attuned to mind and hearts.
They magisterially diagnose the quirks and needs of the lucky visitors; and once his or her
requirements have been intuited, the arch-mages or members of their delightful household
pluck suitable works of art from the depths of a most efficiently arranged but compact
storage area. If he or she needs a dose of aesthetic shock-treatment, here is the prescribed
painting, bronze, ivory, or a bit of silver, handed over to be studied, touched, or inhaled.
If the need is for shared artistic bliss, voila! Could there be a greater pleasure than
coming to know it with the enlightened finders? Given the unique nature of Mittals' current
temple of artistic joy, one hopes that it will not become a conventional museum for many
From Jagdish's and Kamla's vitally hospitable, soul-enhancing museum, the pair of
magicians have selected over one hundred, mostly unpublished works of art illustrated in
this splendid album. Gaze upon them! Ponder them! And be spiritually illumined!
From the Jacket
The art collection of Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad, has been
widely perceived, since its establishment in 1976, as one of the pre-eminent assemblages of
Indian art in the world. The Museum was a major lender to the Festivals of India in UK
(1982) and USA (1985), and a large number of important books and journals have reproduced
works from its collection. However, the Museum does not have a building where its art
objects can be easily accessible for enjoyment and education. To redress this shortcoming,
the Trustees of the Museum have published this monograph, with one hundred and thirty-one of
its select objects, most of them unpublished. They comprise miniature paintings, drawings,
bronzes, metalware, terracottas, wood-carvings, textiles, glass, ivory and jade objects,
produced between the 1st century BC and 1900 AD.
Hopefully, this publication, will enable scholars and art connoisseurs to experience
some fragrance of the collection.
Jagdish Mittal, an artist turned art collector and art-historian, is an erudite
scholar and a leading authority on Indian art. He is the Principal Trustee of the Jagdish
and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art, Hyderabad, to which he and his wife, Kamla, gifted
their unique art collection in 1976. in 1990, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the
government of India. His research articles have been published in prestigious publications.
His book Andhra Paintings of the Ramayana was published in 1969 by the Andhra Pradesh Lalit
Kala Akademi, Hyderabad.
The art collection of the "Jagdish and Kamla Mittal Museum of Indian Art", Hyderabad, has
been widely perceived, since its establishment in 1976, as one of the pre-eminent
assemblages of Indian art in the world. In spite of the fact that the Museum was a major
lender to the "Festivals of India" in UK (1982) and USA (1985), and that a large number of
important books and journals have reproduced works from its collection, it could not fully
achieve its objectives. This is because it still does not have a building where its art
objects could be easily accessible for enjoyment and education. Chiefly for this reason, the
Museum so far could not undertake the activities it had envisaged in the Trust Deed to
promote art. To redress this shortcoming, the Board of Trustees of the Museum felt the need
to publish this monograph, with one hundred and thirty one of its select objects, spanning
over two thousand years, from all facets of Indian art. They comprise miniature paintings,
drawings, bronzes, metalware, terracottas, woodcarvings, textiles, as well as Mughal glass,
ivory and jade objects. Most of them are being published for the first time. This
publication, I hope, will enable scholars and art connoisseurs of the world to experience
some fragrance of the collection. In future, they will not be deprived from this aesthetic
experience, for we shall continue to periodically publish groups of works from its
My homage to the nameless masters who created these works, the proximity of which
constantly provided me that 'sublime delight' and exhilaration which activated my whole
being. My intense involvement with art objects has acted as an elixir for my health and
continues to prolong my lifespan.
Many rasikas taught me to unfold the subtle nuances of art objects and several art
connoisseurs and scholars enjoyed with me this collection. They kept alive my passion for
art objects and gave me confidence in what I was collecting. Their names are mentioned
elsewhere in this publication. I cherish with gratitude their cordial, informative and
insightful remarks. I thank those who, during the last sixty years, made these art objects
available to me. They are: at Chamba: the late Shri Hiralal, Shri Billo Mistry and the late
Shri Dharam Pal Vaid; at Delhi: the late Shri Nandagopal Mehra and his son, the late Shri
Hargopal Mehra, the late Shri Purushottam Ram Kapoor, the late Shri C.L. Nowlakha, Shri
Sultan Singh Backliwal, Shri C.L. Bharany and Shri Narendra Gupta; at Jaipur: the late Shri
Ram gopal Vijaivargiya, Shri Tara Chand Goyal, Shri Hari Narayan Ghiya and Shri Shankar
Vijaivargiya; at Hyderabad: the late Shri Harish Chandra Agarwal and his son, Shri Kishan
Chander Agarwal, Col. R.K. Randon and his late wife Urmila Tandon and the late Shri Ram
Gopal. Besides them, I also thank other individuals who provided a few fine quality
Shri Dhruv Mistry, the famous artist-sculptor and an accomplished photographer from
Vadodara, and Shri Ramesh Babu of Hyderabad, made excellent photographic visuals for this
publication. My grateful thanks to them.
The text was carefully checked by Ms. Radhika Rajamani, Smt. Chandana Chakrabarty
and Professor Meenakshi Mukherjee. All of them gave useful suggestions and polished the
text. My profound gratitude and thanks to each one of them.
My special thanks to Shri A. Narayana Rao who, as usual, patiently typed and retyped
several drafts of this publication.
Thanks also to Shri P. Parameshwar Raju (Trustee) for designing the 'Logo' of the
Museum, and for giving useful suggestions regarding the design of this publication.
My friend Shri Aelay Laxman, the well-known Hyderabadi artist, helped me in
photo-editing the visuals, book-design and during all stages of printing of this work. My
thanks and best wishes to him.
Members of my family at Hyderabad have been supportive of my ideals and looked after
my comforts. Each one of them, especially my daughters, Dr Jamuna Devi and Smt Radha Rani,
and my grandchildren Ms Rama Devi, Ms Uma Devi, Naveen Kumar and Ananth Kumar, are always
unhesitatingly available to me and Kamla for our well being and for any work related to the
Museum. My blessings to them.
My profound gratitude to my long-time revered friend and fellow-collector, Stuart
Cary Welch, for writing the 'Foreword'. He best understands me and Kamla, our vision, the
quality of the Museum's collection and its objectives. This is evident from the words
expressed by him in the 'Foreword'.
The Trustees of the museum are hopeful that the works featured in this publication
will be admired by art lovers for many years to come.
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