Two of the South Asian galleries are filled with nearly 50 paintings from the collection of Drs. Shantaram and Sunita Talegaonkar, who for decades have supported Indian art at VMFA. Assembled over nearly 25 years, these paintings represent the Talegaonkars’ yearnings both to investigate connections to their own heritage and to explore commonalities among the multiple cultures their lives have traversed.
The show’s thematic arrangement encourages the viewer to consider images created across periods and places. A prelude in the first gallery features the collectors’ first acquisition: a set of paintings depicting musical modes. The exhibition then continues with illustrations from narrative texts, devotional religious images, paintings considering romantic love, and finally historical portraits and genre scenes.
Subthemes emerge within these loosely organized sections, sometimes extending between them, but when viewed broadly, the Talegaonkar collection especially gives shape to the political and artistic landscape of 18th- and 19th-century India, when the subcontinent became increasingly fragmented into rival states. This vision of a decentralized courtly India inspires the exhibition’s title.
Krishna Offering Lotuses to the Enthroned Radha (detail), second half of 18th century, Rajasthan, Kishangarh, opaque watercolor and gold on paper. Collection of Drs. Shantaram and Sunita Talegaonkar, L2022.10.8