Epic Tales from Ancient India will feature more than 90 works of art from the Museum’s world-renowned Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings. It will introduce viewers to paintings of India and its sub-continent. These paintings will be given contexts by their various narratives based on the classical literatures of India and South Asia. The exhibition will feature five sections consisting of several literary categories and will represent the major schools of South Asian painting from the 16th through the 19th century. The stories include the Bhagavata Purana, ancient tales of Lord Vishnu and his various incarnations; the Ramayana, recounting the adventures and battles of Hindu god, Rama; the Ragamala, stories entailing music, love, and seasons; and works of Persian literature, including the Shahnama, an epic tale illuminating the cultural and geographic breath of Iran, and its heroic rulers.
The San Diego Museum of Art’s Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of Indian paintings was assembled by Edwin Binney 3rd (1925–1986), an heir to the Crayola fortune. It consists of more than 1,400 works of art created during the 12th through 19th centuries at the Mughal, Deccani, Rajasthani and Pahari courts. The collection of Indian and South Asia paintings came to the museum in 1990, and is one of the largest and finest private collection of South Asia paintings outside of India.
Epic Tales from Ancient India premiered at Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, N.J. from November 12, 2016 to February 5, 2017, and traveled to Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin from July 9, 2017 to October 15, 2017.
Exhibitions of works from the Binney Collection have previously been on display in prestigious institutions around the world. Most recently, the exhibition Into India: South Asian Paintings from The San Diego Museum of Art traveled to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, Museo Nacional de Antropología, Mexico City, and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Paintings from the collection have also been shown in many major exhibitions of Indian art at institutions including The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Musée Guimet in Paris.
A 150-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition and includes essays on book production in South Asia and the history of illustrating each of the texts in the exhibition.