In celebration of Guru Nanak Jayanti Thursday, the iconic Victoria Memorial Hall here has put on display a relatively modern miniature painting of the first Sikh guru and plans to hold an exhibition of old paintings centred on the community next year.
The miniature by W. Kapoor Singh, a non-celebrity artist, shows Nanak flanked by two others - one playing a musical instrument - in the shade of a tree. It was acquired by the VMH in 1911.
Not too much is known about it, conceded its curator and secretary Jayanta Sengupta
"It is not a Mughal miniature. We do not have a lot of details about it in our accession records. My hunch is it was painted in the middle of the 19th century so it is a comparatively modern miniature painted in old style.
"It is a very stunning painting. W. Kapoor Singh was not one of the celebrity artists but very skilled," Sengupta told IANS Thursday about the around 2.5 ft by 1.5 ft piece of art. It will be on display through November as the object of the month.
Sengupta said the VMH intends to hold an exhibition showcasing the substantial number of paintings it has on Sikhs.
"We have paintings on Guru Tegh Bahadur (the ninth Sikh leader), on Nanak and also painting by British artists on Sikh commoners. We are planning an exhibition of Sikh paintings next year. There are plans to hold one exhibition on Tipu Sultan and also one themed on Wajid Ali Shah," the official said.
VMH is regarded as the largest repository in India for the visual history of Kolkata. It boasts of major collections of paintings, manuscripts and sculptures from the British period.
Among its repertoire of valuable manuscripts, VMH houses the note book of Tipu Sultan - the leader of the erstwhile south Indian state of Mysore - in his own hand writing as well as a volume of copies of his letters. Tipu Sultan waskilled defending his homeland against the British East India Company in 1799.