Surprisingly, perhaps, Christian themes are present everywhere in the mainstream market in India – even if they have been driven to the periphery in European art. Exploring ‘Christian themes in Indian art’, the authors here find that they aren’t new in India. Historically, they can be traced back to the 16th century, when the European Christian prints had an unexpected encounter with the Indian miniatures. At the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Christian miniatures were painted, copying the themes from engravings, which the three Jesuit missionaries had brought with them from Europe. This was the start of an amazing fusion in Indian miniatures.
For the first time, this book examines Christian themes in Indian art: from the beginnings of Christianity in India till today. The focus here is chiefly on paintings and sculptures, though the book also includes a chapter on architecture, studying largely the church buildings. Setting out stimulating perspectives on the ‘beginnings of intercultural encounter’, the book systematically explores Christian themes in the works of Bengali artists, the non-Christian artists, the Christian artists, and South Indian artists. In addition, the book also considers popular/folk Christian art, Warli paintings, and Hindu influence on Christian art. With illustrations, the authors present the works of numerous Indian artists that explicitly show the Christian content, including the paintings/sculptures of the internationally-known artists, like Jamini Roy, Arup Das, M.F. Husain, Krishan Khanna, Jehangir Sabavala, Satish Gujral, Anjolie Ela Menon, Francis Newton Souza, Angelo da Fonesca, Solomon Raj, Sister Claire, K.C.S. Panikar, S. Dhanpal, and S.P. Jayakar.
Christian Themes in Indian Art is a well-crafted, painstakingly researched work, illustrated with about 1,100 fascinating colour photographs. It is bound to interest the scholars/connoisseurs of art, and students and researchers of religion, history, art history, and intercultural studies.
Dr Anand Amaladss has, since 1984, been teaching at Satya Nilayam Jesuit Faculty of Philosophy in Chennai – now a part of the Loyola (Autonomous) College, Chennai. Gudrun Lowner, a Ph.D from Heidelberg University (1997), had been working in a Centre of International Encounter in Berne, before she came to India.