The Calcutta Tercentenary Trust

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The Calcutta Tercentenary Trust was founded in 1989 to further the conservation and understanding of India’s European heritage. The first project involved collaboration with the Victoria Memorial Hall to conserve and restore some of their finest oil paintings and works of art on paper by European artists. Since its inception over one million dollars and almost 10 laks rupees have been raised to fund a visiting team of international restorers and conservators from the UK, Europe and USA, and to fund study visits to UK museums for VMH personnel as part of the training programme.

Shanti Majee-De cleaning "Portrait of Shukur Ullah" by Thomas Hickey 1796

Shanti Majee-De cleaning “Portrait of Shukur Ullah” by Thomas Hickey 1796

Throughout this project it has been an equally important objective of the CTT team to share their specialist knowledge and experience, not only with a selected group of Trainee Restorers within the Victoria Memorial Hall but also with a wider audience in Calcutta.

The team has worked with the restoration and conservation staff of the Victoria Memorial to overcome the multitude of deterioration problems to which art objects are subjected, for conservation of cultural heritage cannot be taken for granted. Since 1990 eighty two oil paintings have been fully restored including treatments of cleaning, structural repair and aesthetic restoration together with many of the frames. At the same time conservators have been advising and working on the complementary collection of works of art on paper which are particularly vulnerable to degradation.

Jpeg__Page_30x600hThe Artist’s Eye: India 1770-1830

Oil Paintings in the Collection of the Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta, recently restored in collaboration with The Calcutta Tercentenary Trust, London

In this visible world the being of the painter as the unique spectator was discovered: this pure visible world and the joy of revealing it… Letter from Rabindranath Tagore to Jamini Roy

The exhibition in the Darbar Hall of more than fifty paintings presents some of the fruits of a unique joint project between the Victoria Memorial and the Calcutta Tercentenary Trust, devoted to addressing the problems for conservation of cultural heritage. Conservators from museums and institutions in Britain, Europe and the USA have shared their knowledge and experience while working in Calcutta.

Jpeg__Page_18x600hJpeg__Page_17x600hThe jewels of the collection are the oil paintings painted in India circa 1770 – 1830 by some of the finest European artists of the time. The pictures were assembled by gift or purchase and Indians contributed generously. The landscapes and cityscapes by Thomas and William Daniell are the greatest group of their work in the world, and those by William Hodges, together with portraits and historic scenes by Tilly Kettle, Johann Zoffany, Robert Home, James Wales, Thomas Hickey are among the finest achievements of these artists. The complementary collection of works of art on paper make the holdings of the Victoria Memorial a unique resource for the appreciation of this rich heritage.

Conservators, Restorers and Advisors who have participated in this project 1990 – 2001

CTT Restorers-in-Charge
Patrick Lindsay, 1990-1, Consultant Paintings Conservator, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London; Fogg Art Museum Cambridge, USA
Deirdre Mulley, 1991-2, Paintings Conservator, Area Museums Service of South-eastern England
Rupert Featherstone, 1992-5, Paintings Conservator, Studio of HM The Queen, Royal Collection Trust, London
Lucia Scalisi, 1996-7, Paintings Conservator, Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Christine Mackay, 1998-9, Conservator Works of Art on Paper, National Museum & Galleries of Wales, Cardiff
Victoria Marsland Boyer, 2000-01, Consultant Conservator Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford; National Trust, UK

Restorers

Paul Ackroyd, Paintings Conservator, National Gallery, London
Karen Ashworth, Paintings Conservator, Studio of HM The Queen, Royal Collection Trust, London
Ann Bacon, Head of Department of Conservation of Fine Art, University of Northumbria, Gateshead, UK
Ruth Baier, Paintings Conservator, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen
Anne Baxter, Consultant Paintings Conservator, Louvre, Paris
Debika Chatterjee, Conservation Unit In-Charge, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Subir Dey, Laboratory Asistant and Trainee Paper Conservator, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Caroline Dick, Consultant Conservator Works of Art on Paper, Musee d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva
Andrea Gall, Consultant Paintings Conservator, National Portrait Gallery, London
Arun Ghosh, Chief Restorer, Eastern Regional Centre, Calcutta
Charles Greig, Independent Art Historian, London
Sam Hodge, Paintings Conservator, Tate, London
Joanna Kosek Finkel, Conservator Works of Art on Paper, British Museum, London
Adriano Lorenzelli, Consultant Frames Conservator, Arnold Wiggins & Sons Ltd., London
Santi Magee De, Assistant Restorer oil paintings, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Jane McAusland, Consultant Conservator Works of Art on Paper, Royal Library, Windsor
Stewart Meese, Consultant Paintings Conservator, National Trust, UK
Carole Milner, Consultant Paintings Conservator, Louvre, Paris
Ajit Mondal, Laboratory Assistant, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Mainak Ray, restorer oil paintings, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Sujit Ray, Assistant restorer oil paintings, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Abdul Rob, Laboratory Assistant, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Ian Rolls, Paintings Conservator
Gillian Roy, Chief Conservator Organic Materials, British Museum, London
Annette Rupprecht, Paintings Conservator, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
David Saunders, Chief Scientific Advisor, The National Gallery, London
Ambrose Scott-Moncrieff, Consultant Paintings Conservator Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton
Tapas Sill, Laboratory Assistant and Trainee Frame-conservator, Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Sarah Staniforth, Advisor Paintings Conservation and Environmental Control, National Trust, UK
Janine Wardius, Paintings Conservator, Bergen Museum of Art, Norway
Michael Wheeler, Conservator Works of Art on paper, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Jenny Williamson, Paintings Conservator, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea
Carole Willoughby, Consultant Paintings Conservator, Louvre, Paris

Philippa Vaughan, CTT Project Director 1990 – 2001

Major contributions to the sums raised by the CTT on behalf of the Victoria Memorial Hall include:

The Government of India, The British Government (Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Overseas Development Administration), The British Council, Barclays Bank PLC, Barclays de Zoete Wedd, Baring Foundation, British Airways, The Equitable Charitable Trust, The Esmee Fairbairn Trust, Getty Grant Program, The Headley Trust, Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Inchcape Foundation, INTACH (UK), The Mercer’s Company, Standard Chartered Bank, Tata Iron and Steel Company and many private individuals.

All who have assisted the enterprise by whatever means at their disposal are gratefully acknowledged, particularly HRH Princess Alexandra and HE The Governor of West Bengal who graciously agreed to act as Joint Patrons to establish the Trust. The Trust is indebted to all the institutions named above who have supported the project together with all those who have generously made funds available.

Special acknowledgements to:

Area Museums Services for Southeastern England British Museum, London
Conservation studio of HM The Queen, Windsor Castle Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Marg Publications, Mumbai National Gallery, London
National Museum of Wales, Cardiff National Trust, UK
Tate Britain, London
University of Northumbria, Gateshead, UK Victoria and Albert Museum, London Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta
Wiggins & Co., London (Framers by Royal Appointment to HM The Queen)

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