Exhibition at The Met to Present the Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting

The Met

An Elephant and Keeper, India, Mughal, ca. 1650-60. Opaque color and gold on paper. Howard Hodgkin Collection, Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Acquisitions, Harris Brisbane Dick, and 2020 Benefit Funds; Howard S. and Nancy Marks, Lila Acheson Wallace, and Friends of Islamic Art Gifts; Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; and funds from various donors, 2022 (2022.187)

Exhibition Dates: February 6–June 9, 2024
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Galleries 691–93, The Charles Z. Offin Gallery, Karen B. Cohen Gallery, and Harriette and Noel Levine Gallery

Widely regarded as one of the finest of its kind, British artist Howard Hodgkin’s collection of Indian paintings includes works created at the Mughal, Deccan, Rajput, and Pahari courts dating from the 16th to the 19th century. Opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on February 6, 2024, the exhibition Indian Skies: The Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting will present a unique and personal vision of India’s great painting tradition through newly acquired works from the artist’s collection.  

The exhibition is made possible by the Florence and Herbert Irving Fund for Asian Art Exhibitions, and the Friends of Islamic Art.

Exhibition Overview

The exhibition will present over 100 examples of Indian court paintings assembled by Hodgkin over a lifetime of collecting. This highly individual collection represents the artist’s response to the color, subject matter, and the emotive content of Indian painting. The exhibition will comprise works newly acquired by the Museum and will be supplemented by loans from The Howard Hodgkin Indian Collection Trust.  

Underlying Hodgkin’s eclectic collection—which includes portraits, palace scenes, royal hunts, illustrations to religious epics, devotional subjects, and nature studies—are several unifying themes that reflect Hodgkin’s preferences for compositions that convey narrative drama, poetic allusion, and emotional intensity. He also had a predilection for elephants rendered as portraits and in action. 

The exhibition reflects Hodgkin’s personal taste while remaining true to the scholarly traditions around Indian painting. The paintings will be arranged in a chronological sequence by school, starting with the earliest works of the 16th-century Mughal era and related Deccani works, followed by the later Rajput and Pahari schools. A third space is given over to the celebration of the elephant paintings, which span all schools. The presentation will also include Hodgkin’s paintings Small Indian Sky and In Mirza’s Room, which will be shown in association with related Indian works, alluding to the subtle relationship between Hodgkin’s own work, India and his collection. 

Credits and Related Content

Indian Skies: The Howard Hodgkin Collection of Indian Court Painting is co-curated by John Guy, Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, and Navina Najat Haidar, Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah Curator in Charge of Islamic Art, at The Met. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, a quarterly publication, has devoted the Spring 2024 issue to the exhibition. 

The Met’s quarterly Bulletin program is supported in part by the Lila Acheson Wallace Fund for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, established by the cofounder of Reader’s Digest.

The exhibition will be featured on The Met website as well as on social media.



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