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There’s more to Kipling than ‘The Jungle Book’

A new exhibition at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum will throw light on Rudyard Kipling’s father Lockwood Kipling, who lived in India and chronicled its arts and customs.

world Updated: Jan 11, 2017 21:15 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Window frame from late 19th century India that is featured in a new exhibition on Lockwood Kipling, the father of author Rudyard Kipling, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Window frame from late 19th century India that is featured in a new exhibition on Lockwood Kipling, the father of author Rudyard Kipling, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.(HT Photos)

Rudyard Kipling is known for his iconic books and short stories, but a major new exhibition throws light on his less known father: Lockwood Kipling, who lived in India for years and chronicled its arts and customs for the British Raj.

Kipling senior (1837-1911) brought back a large number of objects from India and placed them in the Victoria & Albert Museum, where he worked. The exhibition from January 14 includes more than 300 rare objects dating back to the late 19th century.

“There is more to Kipling and The Jungle Book. Lockwood Kipling not only chronicled India’s art but also found markets for them abroad,” Julius Bryant, co-curator of the museum, said on Wednesday.

Kipling left for India in 1865 and taught at the JJ School of Art in Mumbai, among other posts he held during his time in India. In 1870, he was commissioned by the colonial government to record local customs and crafts. Five years later, he also headed the Mayo School of Industrial Art.

Armchair, Srinagar. Based on Regency furniture design, it was made for display at the London International Exhibition of 1871. It has never been used. (HT Photo)

The exhibition, titled Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London, explores the history of the museum’s collection through his life, and includes paintings in the Indian section of the Great Exhibition of 1851, his sketches of Indian craftspeople, his book of illustrations and furniture designed for royal residences.

On returning to England in 1893, he and son Rudyard often collaborated. The exhibition includes a terracotta tobacco jar designed and made by Kipling in the shape of a bear, inspired by their shared time in India.

Rudyard wove his father’s vivid collections into his stories, many of which Lockwood Kipling illustrated. The exhibition includes a range of these editions, including The First and The Second Jungle Book and Kim. 

Door from late 19th century India that is featured in a new exhibition on Lockwood Kipling, the father of author Rudyard Kipling, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (HT Photo)

The exhibition concludes with furniture and designs relating to royal commissions that Kipling worked on with his student, the architect Bhai Ram Singh - the Indian billiard room for the Duke of Connaught at Bagshot Park in Surrey and the Durbar Hall at Osborne, Queen Victoria’s summer home. 

A joint venture between the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Bard Graduate Centre, New York, the exhibition will run till April 2.