Highlights slideshow - Procession of Krishnaraja Wadiyar Through Mysore 1

Unknown, Procession of Krishnaraja Wadiyar Through Mysore (Detail), 1825-1830, opaque watercolour on paper backed with cloth, 215 x 7320 mm. © V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts

November 20, 2010 – April 3, 2011


“A glittering exhibition” – London Times, U.K.

This fall, the Art Gallery of Ontario unveils an extraordinary exhibition that explores in depth the opulent world of the maharajas, from the beginning of the eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts brings to Canada for the first time more than 200 spectacular works of art created for India’s great kings — including paintings, furniture, decorative arts and jewellery. These magnificent objects chronicle the many aspects of royal life and celebrate a legacy of cultural patronage by generations of maharajas, both in India and in Europe.




Processions in India during the 1800s were complex events that celebrated various kinds of power and prestige. They revealed tensions in political authority, social hierarchy and religious tradition. The British representatives, for example, had to assert their colonial role without appearing to endorse or participate in the worship of Hindu deities who formed the focus of much of the event. Among the Hindu participants, the order of the various temples, sects and communities was often hotly contested.

Company painting

Historians use the terms “Company painting” or “Company style” to describe paintings such as this scroll. They were produced by Indian artists for European patrons in the late 1700s and 1800s. Many of the buyers were British, and employed by the East India Company. Paintings of Indian occupations, castes, rituals, festivals and everyday life in India were of particular interest to the British, as were images of India’s natural history and architecture. The British often used Company paintings as illustrations for publications, or sent them home to England as souvenirs. This type of painting declined in popularity around the 1840s with the introduction of photography.


Maharaja AGO Entrance

Rose petals and candlelight carpeted the steps of the Art Gallery of Ontario in traditional welcome as more than 450 guests — many in brilliant South Asian dress — arrived for the glittering Maharaja Gala on Saturday, November 13. Coveted tickets to the much-anticipated fundraising event, co-chaired by Laura Rapp and filmmaker Deepa Mehta, included an exclusive first preview of the exhibition Maharaja: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts.

Maharaja Gala Baillie Court

Inside, the Gallery had been transformed into a dazzling space that showcased the richness of Indian culture. As guests enjoyed cocktails in Walker Court, the music of internationally acclaimed Toronto ensemble Autorickshaw set the stage for an unforgettable evening of music, entertainment and splendid food. Spectacular paper lanterns strung from the ceiling of Baillie Court heralded a sumptuous Indian-inspired feast prepared by AGO executive chef Anne Yarymowich and her talented staff. Beautiful Kathak dancers from SAMPRADAYA Dance Creations and DK Bollywood Dance Pak thrilled guests with their energetic performances. Following dinner, The Tabla Guy, Gurpreet Chana, along with Paul ‘The Drummer’ Nanuwa and DJ Kamran, had people on the dance floor until late into the night.

Thank you to our generous sponsors and guests who made these evening such a tremendous success. We would like to express our sincere appreciation to our dedicated committee whose leadership and creativity helped shape the vision for this memorable evening.

Gala Co-chairs
Deepa Mehta & Laura Rapp

Gala Committee

Liloo Alim
Diane Bald
Isabel Bassett
Linda Chu
Virginia Cirocco
Yvonne Fleck
Senator Linda Frum
Lina Gagliano
Shinan Govani
Alan Gozlan
Beth Horowitz
Victoria Jackman
Shanitha Kachan
Karim Karmali
Senator Vim Kochhar
Michelle Koerner
Tiana Koffler Boyman
Lynda Latner
Jennifer Leitch
Barbara Macdonald
Sarah Macdonald
Adrienne Maniezzo
Amrin Marwah
Nancy McCain
Patricia Menkes
Helen Miller
Farah Mohamed
Shabin Mohamed
Jennifer Pavri
Nancy Pencer
Karen Pivnick
Lynda Prince
Pat Rekhi
Estelle Richmond
Earl Rotman
Michael Ruscetta
Nalini Stewart
Connie Sugiyama
Alicia Vandermeer
Anju Virmani
Victoria Webster
Paula Whitmore
Robin Young
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